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Nigeria health workers take jabs to rural areas

A man is administered a Moderna COVD-19 vaccination at the Gaube comprehensive primary health care center in Kuje, Nigeria, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.   -  
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Gbemiga Olamikan/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved


As Nigeria aims to boost the number of people vaccinated against the coronavirus health authorities have been taking jabs to small villages outside urban areas.

On Wednesday, a group of health workers carrying 180 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived at the village of Gaube to vaccinate residents in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus in the small community.

Due to the heavy rains and bad roads, it took almost an hour to drive the 14kms from Kauje - the main town of the region - to the health center in Gaube, a situation frequently seen in many places in Nigeria especially during the rainy season.

"It's important that there is equity in access to the vaccines," said Dr. Emmanuel Okpetu, director of primary health care at Kuje Area Council, leading the team of health workers visiting the different communities.

Okpetu warned that inequality with access to vaccinations was not just a global problem, with many richer nations accused of hoarding vaccines, limiting supply to less-developed nations.

He said there was also an issue inside countries with rural communities having less access to jabs than urban communities.

"We are making efforts to ensure that irrespective of where people live or what they do, they will have access to the vaccines," he said.

In addition to the efforts made by the health workers, leaders in the villages are joining the vaccination campaign to fight against the hesitancy surrounding the vaccines.

Ismailah Ahmed, the traditional chief of Gaube, was the first to receive the vaccine on Wednesday.

After the inoculation, the 37-year-old farmer said he was going to talk with the head of the mosque and the church to spread the word about the vaccine.

Africa's brutal coronavirus resurgence driven by the delta variant is further stretching already strained health systems across the continent.

While African countries struggle, the United States and other high-income countries are talking about booster shots, a fact criticized by some health authorities.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation with more than 210 million people, received 4 million Moderna doses last month donated by the U.S. and expects a delivery of more than 29 million Johnson & Johnson doses purchased by the government through the African Union.