10 problems of immunization in Nigeria.. Challenges of immunization in Nigeria…

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Truth be told, through government efforts and other vaccine support groups, it is hard to now see a child or an individual that is not vaccinated in Nigeria….This does not mean that vaccine coverage in Nigeria is not without it challenges and problems.
The vaccine mandate in Nigeria is not perfect, there are still some factors that are impediment to making sure every Nigerian gets fully vaccinated ranging from insecurity, ignorance, poor access roads to hinterlands, poor health facilities, toxic religious teachings against vaccines, and so…

In this article , I am going to look at at least 10 problems of immunization in Nigeria …..

Let’s take a look at some of these factors below:

10 problems of immunization in Nigeria


Due to insurgencies especially in the north-eastern and South-eastern part of Nigeria, and banditry in the Northwest, the reach of immunization programmes into these areas especially in the rural communities has continually reduced since healthworkers run away from these regions of the country for fear if their dear lives. It is now common to see hitherto vaccine preventable diseases like polio and yellow fever ravaging these unsecured areas. The large population of persons especially children displaced from their communities are poses a great challenge to routine immunization.

If you still remember, barely 2 years after being declared polio free, Nigeria recorded a new case of poliomyelitis in 2016 in Northern Borno, a one time stronghold of Boko Haram terrorists.

10 problems of immunization in Nigeria
A health worker giving vaccine to a child in a rural community. CREDIT: UNICEF

2. Religion and Cultural Beliefs hampers immunization:

This is a fact. The preachings against polio vaccine by Muslim clerics between 2003/2004 in Northern Nigeria lead to the tripling of polio incidence and prevalence in Nigeria…. Because of these religious indoctrination against vaccines , fanatics targeted and killed vaccine givers and health care workers in cities like Kano and this nosedived the vaccine reach and coverage.

It is also worthy of note that the covid vaccine hesitancy experienced in Nigeria today is a part caused by the toxic sermons from pastors like Chris Oyakhilome and Johnson Suleiman…With video evidence, these pastors told their church members to reject coronavirus vaccines as it a mark other Antichrist (666)

3. Ignorance:

They say ignorance is a disease. In Nigeria, ignorance and poor knowledge of the numerous health benefits and true goal of vaccination has been a barrier to routine immunization.

Despite the significant active and societal demand for immunization, some populations, particularly in rural regions, may not receive immunization sensitization or are misinformed about vaccination. Parents have expressed concerns about it on several occasion.

4. Lack of education on the importance of vaccines:

The golden rule of vaccine mandate is communication in the the simplest of languages because that is what actually promote vaccine acceptance. People should be told what they stand to gain healthwise if the get jabbed. To achieve this, everyone should be carried along including the market woman.

The fallout of poor yellow fever vaccine compliance that took place during yellow fever outbreak in Delta State was as a result of poor communication….People roundly rejected it because they felt their king hasn’t publicly endorsed it.

Every vaccine program should not be hidden and must be broadcast on every local radio and television stations plus town hall meetings, religious houses(churches and mosques)…leaders of like traditional heads , religious leaders, opinion molders , parents etc most be carried along to ensure vaccine compliance.

It is now very common to see uniformed people moving from house to house in the name of giving vaccine, without prior notice to the community…..This is very wrong.

5. Inadequate storage equipment for vaccine safety:

Nigeria has a power crisis which affect every facet of our nationhood including immunization. With power problems , the vaccine cold chain are almost always broken and this affects vaccine reach. Vaccine must be stored in the right temperature and handled according to the manufacturers instruction but this can hardly be achieved in Africa and countries like Nigeria that have energy crisis. Sometimes, before the vaccines designated for a particular community gets to them, they have become bad because of poor storage along the cold chain. There is nothing more dangerous than giving a child an expired or damaged vaccine, instead of offering protection, it kills them.

6. Lack of knowledge and training on the part of the vaccinators:

This is another big immunization concern in Nigeria that should be taken into account. Most vaccinators in Nigeria lack the necessary skills, knowledge, and competences to give vaccines, but they are nevertheless hired. Because the child will be on the receiving end, this should not be the case. Wrong vaccination administration, for example, might have a harmful impact on a child’s health.

7. Ignorant and bigoted health care workers.:

Many a times, health care workers mix their extreme religious beliefs with scientific teachings about vaccines. It is a common practice in Nigeria to now see medical doctors and nurses advising their patients and followers on social media against taking covid vaccines. Bill Gates, a US philanthropist that has spent billions of dollars to help Africa achieve the vaccine mandate and encourage wide vaccine coverage on Nigeria, is enemy number one of many Nigerian health care workers because they believe he has ulterior motives to reduce Africa’s population…..A lie told many times.

8. Unavailability of Vaccines and Immunization materials:

Despite the giant strides made in vaccination, vaccine unavailability is still one of the problems Nigeria is grappling with. Most times, the reason for the lack of vaccines and essential vaccination tools is mainly because of lack of funds and vaccine hoarding in the international market by developed countries. The ongoing vaccine drive for coronavirus vaccination is hampered greatly by vaccine inequality triggered by the richer Western countries. That been said,in situations were the vaccines are available in the country, distribution and cold chain becomes the greatest impediment.

9. Misconceptions Regarding Vaccination:

These are significant roadblocks to successful immunization coverage in Nigeria. Ignorance mixed with religious fanatism have led to erroneous vaccination beliefs. Erroneous knowledge of vacinnation’s preventive role in health can lead to incorrect beliefs and practices, which can lead to underutilization of health service like immunization.

For example, while some people think of immunization as a way to prevent diseases in part, others think of it as a way to control fertility and reduce Nigeria’s population, and still others think it comes with a lot of drawbacks like side effects and other issues like autism.

All of these erroneous immunization views have been a long-standing issue in the Nigerian health sector. Illiterates and those without access to the internet are the most likely to have this incorrect knowledge.

10. Inaccessible communities

This is perhaps one of the most important problems of challenges of immunization in Nigeria that should be discussed. The majority of rural communities are remote and lack access roads or other viable means of transportation of reaching them, so, health workers and vaccine distributors or givers can practically not reach them. The community in Adamawa state that reportedly had a suspected case of polio in 2021 is very remote and cannot be reached….

11. Religious Fanatism and Antivaxxer Nigerian Pastors or Men of God.

One of the greatest impediment to covid-19 (coronavirus) vaccination despite government effort to get majority of Nigrians vaccinated is the puerile pulpit preachings against coronavirus vaccination from prominent pastors like Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, Apostle Suleiman and a host of other pastors.

These pastors, especially Pastor Chris and Apostle Suleiman practically to their large church members not to get the covid vaccine and encourage their members not to go to the hospital if they notice any covid symptoms. They called covid vaccine demonic and a “mark of the beast”. The religious brainwashing from churches against vaccine is largely responsible for the covid vaccine apathy Nigeria is battling today.

12. A sick child will not be vaccinated:

In 2016, I once met a year child who missed vaccination mainly because mother claims he always fall sick whenever it was time to be immunized. So, the vaccine nurses always send them back home whenever they go to the primary health care centre for vaccination….As a golden rule , a child that is sick and having fever is not given vaccine until that fever is taken care of. There are many children out there who missed routine immunization because of this reason.


Nigeria as a country has made giant strides in providing free and compulsory vaccination for its teeming populace. That said, there are still some serious challenges militating against widespread vaccine coverage in Nigeria that needs to be tackled. First among which, is the wrong teachings of religion against vaccination and the emerging issues of vaccine equality that makes getting covid vaccine difficult. Northern Nigeria is not the only impediment hampering Nigeria’s vaccine mandate. Southern Nigeria is not really doing better especially with the rise of pastors that are antivaxxers in the region.

This article or discussion on the 10 problems of immunization in Nigeria was Written by Stella-maris Achumba and Dr Udomoh of the Nigerian Health Blog.


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