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The biggest barrier to Nigeria achieving ideal immunization rates is vaccine hesitancy- PSHAN


The biggest barrier to Nigeria achieving ideal immunization rates is vaccine hesitancy- PSHAN


The Private Sector Health Alliance, PSHAN, has cited vaccine hesitancy as a major reason why Nigeria has not achieved herd immunity despite having around 19% of its overall population protected with COVID-19 vaccinations.

In the meantime, PSHAN on Monday in Lagos inked an MOU with one of the top pharmaceutical firms, Sanofi, to conduct a study dubbed “COVID-19 Vaccination Hesitancy Assessment in Nigeria (C19-VHAN)” with the purpose of identifying the causes of vaccine hesitancy in the nation. When discussing the effects of COVID-19 during the official signing of the agreement in Lagos, PSHAN’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Tinuola Akinbolagbe, noted that the pandemic’s effects reach beyond personal health to include human health, human capital, and the economy as a whole.

Akinbolagbe noted the risks of vaccine hesitancy but said that four out of ten Nigerians are thought to be against receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.

“Vaccine hesitancy is compounded by several complex and context specific factors which vary across time, place and vaccines, misinformation, misconceptions, illiteracy, ignorance, limited supplies, logistical issues and an underlying suspicion of authorities.”

According to her, PSHAN and Sanofi have pooled their resources and efforts to conduct an evidence-based study that is intended to provide the knowledgeable data needed to support the numerous initiatives, programs, policies, and interventions already in place to increase the vaccination rate in the nation.

Sanofi’s resources and vaccine knowledge will help PSHAN complete the 10-month study, and health actors looking to develop awareness campaigns and other interventions to increase vaccine acceptance will find the study’s findings helpful.

Noting that vaccine hesitancy was a delay or refusal to accept vaccination, sher said:”When we first started vaccination in Nigeria, demand was high that people were bribing to get it. Now we have vaccines flushed all over the place but people are not taking them. We have to find the reason. We thank Sanofi for collaborating with PSHAN,” Akinbolagbe.

Akinbolagbe cited data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when he claimed that 16.9% of Nigeria’s population had had some vaccinations. While 0.4 percent have received booster shots, 13.3 percent are fully immunized. Nearly 116 million doses of vaccinations, enough for 58 million people, have been sent to Nigeria. However, some 29 million people have received all of their vaccinations.

She bemoaned the fact that efforts like the Nigeria Solidarity Support Fund program to immunize one million Nigerians by 2022 have been impeded by the failure to overcome hesitation.

Speaking, Mr. Oluwale Akinbowale, General Manager and Country Lead, Sanofi, gave the parties on the initiative a task and advised them to make sure the effort has a sustainability framework lasting up to five or ten years. This, he said, will result in a multiplier effect and impact more Nigerians.

“For us, healthcare is a shared responsibility and we believe that we have to work together with multiple stakeholders to address different barriers along the healthcare journey of Nigerians. We believe PSHAN will be able to help us understand why we have a lot of hesitancy. We are supporting the exercise. It’s an independent project of PSHAN but our responsibility is to support PSHAN with resources to achieve this including our expertise in vaccines.”

Speaking, Sanofi’s Head of Vaccines Public Affairs, Alejandra Martinez, commended the partnership, adding that the outcome of the study would beneficial to other African countries that are having similar challenge like Nigeria.

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