• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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COVID-19: Side effects, apathy discourage 6m from taking second dose

COVID-19: Side effects, apathy discourage 6m from taking second dose

A combination of side effects and apathy appear to be discouraging many Nigerians from completing their COVID-19 vaccine, BusinessDay has found.

Recent data published by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) shows that six million Nigerians have not returned for a second dose a year after Nigeria started administering the vaccines.

All the 36 states in Nigeria, including the FCT, have varying numbers of partially and fully vaccinated persons. The data released on April 12 showed that over 1.5 million persons are partially vaccinated in Lagos State.

“The first dose almost killed me. I was sick for a week and three days,” a former student at the University of Lagos disclosed via a WhatsApp chat.

“I have reservations about taking the second dose because when I took the first one, there were a lot of side effects. I had headaches, body pains, felt sick overnight, and it was like that for like a day or two. Also, the use of a nose mask is still compulsory despite taking the vaccine, so I didn’t really see the need for it,” a project manager of a manufacturing company that had the vaccines brought to their facility but didn’t take it, said.

“It’s terrible. I cannot subject myself to such pains twice. I felt like I wanted to die after that first dose. This is not the first vaccination I’m taking, but that’s the worst vaccination ever. It’s not worth it,” Brilliant Akpedafe, a production technician, told BusinessDay.

When asked if it was mandatory for him at his organisation to take the first dose that he initially took, Akpedafe responded, “it wasn’t really. We were just advised to take it, and I took the bad advice, queued at a public health centre and wasted my time being tormented.”

Read also: Nigeria to produce COVID candidate vaccine in 2023

From responses gathered, a number of people have identified that if they do take the second dose, it would be because they do not have a choice.

A recent Twitter poll conducted by BusinessDay to identify reasons why Nigerians have been failing to show up at their vaccination centres for a second dose had six votes. Of the six votes, the “lack of interest and laziness option” had the highest vote, amounting to 83 percent of the poll, with the remaining 17 percent voting for the option that the vaccine (first dose now) did not work.

For some others, they have either lacked the time to go, or the doses were not available at the time they went back for it. “On the day of my second dose appointment, I was told Moderna wasn’t available and had taken excuse from work for it. So I just went back home but knew I won’t have time to go for another appointment,” an intern with a Nigerian bank mentioned.

“It’s hard to find the same dose around Onike here. I took the first when I went home, Akute area,” a current University of Lagos student responded via a chat.

A middle-aged worker with an insurance company in Nigeria added, “My centre only gives the second shot in the mornings from Mondays to Fridays. That’s not a convenient time for me, so I haven’t gone back.”

Chukwuka Okereke, former medical officer, Department of Internal Medicine, Federal Medical Centre, Birnin-Kebbi, who is now in Nottingham Trent University for a Master’s degree in Public Health identified side effects as a major reason.

Another factor is that some people find it difficult to actually get these vaccines.

“My first dose was in a hospital in Kalgo, and during the time for the second dose, they relocated it to Birnin-Kebbi. So some people who do not have that means of transportation and have been looking for an excuse to not take it will find that a reasonable excuse to not get the second dose,” he said, adding that “a lot of people still don’t believe in COVID-19, and maybe the conspiracy theory has caught up with them.”

Okereke pointed out that at the point of the first dose, some people may have not really heard of all the conspiracy theories, but may have at the time of the second, which are not substantial about the vaccine.