Nigeria launches another COVID-19 vaccination drive

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Trucks with banners and speakers announcing the COVID-19 vaccine was free and safe visited various markets in the capital Abuja on Wednesday, followed by health workers in vans ready to vaccinate people.

While Nigeria faces a new wave of COVID-19 cases mainly because of the spread of omicron variant, authorities in the capital launched a new campaign with mobile units visiting different places, to vaccinate more people in Africa's most populous country.

"COVID-19 vaccine protects you, your loved ones and your community", read a banner in one of the trucks, while some health workers walked through the alleys of the Wuse market asking workers and clients to get the vaccine.

"At the beginning I was very scared because I heard of expired vaccines (being given to people) but later I was informed that those vaccines were not the one we took" said Kareem Jubrin, a trader at the market who received his second dose on Wednesday.

"I'm very happy now that they brought new vaccines to us in the market, I'm very excited and I will tell my friends to come out and get vaccinated too" he added.

Nigeria destroyed more than one million expired doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine on December after authorities said they could not be used before their expiration date.

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said health officials were left with little choice after receiving the donated doses that didn't have much shelf life left.

About 4% of those eligible for the jab, were fully vaccinated in the country that is house of 206 million people, the agency said.

Health officials have set an ambitious goal of vaccinating more than a quarter of the population by February. While hesitancy has been high, the country's vaccination rate has nearly doubled over the past weeks.

According to the NPHCDA the daily COVID-19 vaccination coverage last year was about 100,000 people per day. "Between December 2021 and January 2022, we have more than doubled this vaccination rate to over 200,000 per day" the agency said.

Just over 10% of Africa's population of 1.3 billion people are fully vaccinated, Africa Centers for Disease Control said. The continent's 54 countries have confirmed 10.4 million COVID-19 cases and 235,000 deaths by last week.

The continent's omicron wave appears to be receding, with new confirmed cases down by 20% from the previous week and deaths dropping by 8%, the World Health Organization's Africa office announced last Thursday.

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