Why Lagos ranks low despite hitting highest COVID-19 vaccination volume

Rating the fraction of the target population vaccinated over the absolute amount of individuals vaccinated from the start of the national COVID-19 vaccination programme in March has left Lagos a laggard on states ranking, despite achieving the highest volume, BusinessDay found.

Lagos, with 828, 685 fully vaccinated as of January 13 queued at 15th position behind Nassarawa, Jigawa, Ogun, Zamfara and Oyo on the vaccination chart of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA). Almost 1.4 million have received first doses in the state.

Jigawa, a state that has 99, 141 fully vaccinated and struggles to get over one million to return for their second dose is considered a better performing, leading the chart in the second position.

Benchmarked against the percentage of its target population (adults aged 18 and above), Nasarawa tops the chart with 71.54 percent covered, only 155, 327 completely vaccinated and 665, 700 partially vaccinated.

The Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board says the representation by the NPHCDA does not reflect the scale of reach and efforts to spread vaccination across board in the state.

Ibrahim Mustafa, permanent secretary of the board said basing the ranking on the fresh target to vaccinate 50 percent of the eligible population under the mass vaccination campaign launched in November was fraught with the assumption that no activities were recorded in the state before November.

“As of January 1st, the total number vaccinated all over the country was about four million and Lagos did 1.3 million of that. There is no other state that is near that. When we started this last campaign, our plan is to reach 50 percent of the target population to reach herd immunity,” Mustafa told BusinessDay during an interview.

“If you go back and check the national population commission website which is the data that the NPHCDA uses, the population of people above 18 in Lagos is over eight million, and 50 percent of that is four million. They have based Lagos on the four million target and are assuming that Lagos has not vaccinated anyone from March to November and that our target is four million.”

While Mustapha acknowledged that the state was achieving higher volumes during the first phase of vaccination, he insists that no other state has achieved its coverage.

Asked if the issue has been tabled before the NPHCDA, he said the agency has been approached and their response is that this is the subsisting approach.

He further noted that the state might consider mandating vaccination to increase coverage, especially in public facilities. Voluntary vaccination has not yielded much results under the current campaign, despite the availability of vaccines.

He said more means of expanding the reach of vaccination was being explored, including involvement of religious centres, and public transport systems among others.

“In some of these countries, they have vaccine mandate and probably will be something we will have to decide on in Lagos going forward; that if you are a civil servant, you must have your vaccination to be able to work in government facilities. That will also push people to begin to go to the vaccination centres,” Mustafa said.

“What we are interested in is to vaccinate as many of our people as possible. We are currently at some of the bus stops. We visit churches and mosques and are even in BRT buses sometimes just to ensure that we are reaching out to many people,” he said

According to the NPHCDA, over 12.3 million have received their first doses, while over 4.9 million have completed their vaccinations as of January 13.

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