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Headlines saying 96% of Nigerians have received Covid-19 jabs are misleading

The headline of an article on Latest Nigerian News, an online news aggregation website, claims Nigeria’s federal government has administered the first Covid-19 vaccine dose to 96% of Nigerians.

The May 2021 report continues to circulate online. The same headline was spotted on Facebook and Twitter.

The article first appeared in the Vanguard newspaper, and in a tweet on its official account. (The newspaper has since changed its headline to say 96% of eligible Nigerians had received their first vaccine.)

‘96% of Covid-19 vaccination target, not total population’

What the federal government said in its widely reported update was that the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine had been administered to 1,929,237 Nigerians, representing 96% of the targeted population – not the whole country.

It also said people currently eligible for the second dose would have received their first dose six to 12 weeks ago.

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency is in charge of administering the vaccine. The headline was false, the agency told Africa Check.

“The vaccination process is organised into phases 1 to 4, and each phase has a targeted population. Phase 1 includes health workers and frontline workers. These are the people we have been vaccinating.” 

The agency added that not everyone was eligible, and there wasn’t even enough vaccine to cover all eligible people. This is why vaccination is being done in phases. 

“When we get to the second phase, we will state those who are eligible for this phase,” it said.

Who is eligible?

In March 2021, Nigeria received 3.94 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. They were shipped through the Covax facility, a partnership between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Unicef, and the World Health Organization. 

The vaccine is being administered to eligible Nigerians, who include frontline healthcare workers and support staff, people who work in high-risk areas such as points of entry, rapid response teams, contact tracing teams, Covid-19 vaccination teams, and strategic leadership.

People aged 50 and above, and those with significant comorbidities aged 18 to 49, are also eligible to get the vaccine.

In May the federal government began administering the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the nearly 2 million citizens who had already received the first jab.

Nigeria is also making plans for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, with deliveries to begin by September. The country aims to fully vaccinate about 40% of eligible Nigerians this year and another 30% in 2022, to achieve 70% vaccine coverage.

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