The Djinn of vaccine hesitancy: Is it still out ?

Ode Uduu, Shobha Shukla, Bobby Ramakant
It was a busy day for Usman Mu’azu Yusuf as he negotiated with customers at his shop in the Nasarawa GRA area of Kano, Kano State, in Nigeria. The proximity between him and his customers was well less than the one-metre stipulated for the COVID-19 safety protocols.
All the COVID-19 protocols were the least of his concerns, as his primary aim was to make a sale. “I have not taken the COVID-19 vaccine… it has been a long time since I heard of any advertisement on the radio or television informing me where I can be vaccinated,” he said.
Poor sensitisation of the COVID-19 vaccine brewed resistance against the vaccine. Most of the Kano, Nigeria residents, had heard little of the vaccine and where they could take it.
At Na-Ibawa, Kano, Samuel Akintola, a computer operator, responded that he was yet to be vaccinated. For he had heard of the availability of the vaccine over the radio, but that was a long time ago. According to him, the advertisement was aired for just a week when the vaccine was initially released.
Vaccine coverage and its pace are far from ideal
As per current evidence, it is clear that all the people globally who are eligible for the vaccination should get it. That is the only way to end the severity of the pandemic.
In 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) set targets for countries to vaccinate 10% of their people by September 2021, 40% by December 2021, and 70% by June 2022.
But Nigeria is yet to meet the 70% vaccination target and was also late in meeting the 10% target. India, however, met the 10% target, but failed to meet the 70% target set by WHO.
In Kano State, 8.05 million persons have been fully vaccinated, receiving both the first and second doses as of February 16, 2023. Another 3.02 million people have received the first dose, with 1.59 million receiving the booster dose. Analysis shows that only 48.89% of those eligible for vaccination in Kano State have been vaccinated.
In Uttar Pradesh, the most populated State of India, as of February 17, 2023, 168.97 million were fully vaccinated. However, only 9.39 million have received the booster dose yet.
Myriad reasons fuelled vaccine hesitancy
A random sampling of 20 taxi drivers, tricycle riders, business owners, and residents in Na-Ibawa, Nasarawa GRA, Post Office road, and Sabon Gari showed that none were vaccinated. Most of them had not heard of any advertisement on the availability of the vaccine and thus did not know where to get vaccinated.
However, the situation in Uttar Pradesh was some shades different, with high decibel COVID-19 vaccine awareness and promotion by the Government right from the time the rollout began on January 16, 2021– but it remained confined to urban areas only.
(To be contd)