In Lagos – Nigeria, COVID-19 vaccination sites move to local markets in highly populated districts
To scale up COVID-19 vaccination in Lagos state, UNICEF, with the support of the UN Basket Fund, is helping the state make the vaccines available in famous local markets for eligible populations in the six districts with high density populations.
When 24-year-old Ruth Olatunbosun left home to get food items for her family from the famous "Mile 12" market in Kosofe district – with a population of over a million people, she had no idea she would be getting her first dose of the covid-19 vaccination as well. Like most young people in her district, Ruth believed there was no urgency to receive the vaccination due to the decline in the reported COVID-19 infection cases in Nigeria.
However, convincing information from the mobilization team of the Lagos State Primary Healthcare Board and the National Orientation Agency at the vaccination campaign tagged "#KeepCovidoutofLagos" brought about a change of heart for Ruth. She joined the queue of people waiting to be registered and was given the shot. "This is convenient and has saved me from making the trip to our health center far from my house," she said. She is now lending her voice to convince her family, friends, and other youths about the urgent need to take the COVID-19 vaccination without further delay.
Ruth was not the only delighted visitor to the Mile 12 market on this day. Alhaja Bolanle Oseni, the veteran woman leader of the market, was the first to be vaccinated, positioned in the middle of the market while receiving the shot to demonstrate leadership by example and to allay fears around safety concerns over COVID-19 vaccines.
I got vaccinated because I am convinced that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe, she tells her colleagues.
Alhaja Oseni went from shop to shop, convincing other market women to join the queue and be vaccinated, highlighting the vaccine's importance in helping to protect everyone from the COVID-19 disease. "When the adults are protected, children are safe," she said, likening the COVID-19 vaccine to other life-saving routine immunization vaccines that adults and children receive.
As the paramount market leader, her opinion carries weight with people in the Mile 12 market. Her influential voice is now helping spread the message that vaccines are safe and people should get vaccinated – thereby putting Lagos more firmly on the path to increasing uptake and defeating the global pandemic.
*The European Union in Nigeria has pledged to continue to support UNICEF and partners in strengthening COVID-19 vaccination coverage in Nigeria.