Nigeria today received nearly 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, its health ministry announced on social media.
The country's National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said on Monday that Nigeria would take delivery of 3.92 million doses of the shot, the first arrival of a Covid-19 vaccine in Africa's most populous nation.
Nigeria is now the third West African country to receive the coronavirus vaccine -- joining neighbors Ghana and Ivory Coast -- which have all been supplied through the COVAX program.
COVAX is a global initiative that helps poorer and smaller countries gain access to Covid-19 vaccines.
Faisal Shuaib, who heads the NPHCDA, said in a statement Monday that Nigeria's vaccine rollout would start "with critical healthcare workers, who are in the frontline."
"We are fully prepared to receive and deliver the vaccine to eligible Nigerians as we have commenced the training of health workers and ensured that cold chain facilities are ready at all levels. We have a robust cold chain system that can store all types of Covid-19 vaccine in accordance with the required temperature," Shuaib added.
In a follow-up statement on social media Monday, Shuaib said a website had been launched to register Nigerians for Covid-19 vaccination.
Nigeria plans to inoculate at least 70% of its population aged 18 and above. This, the NPHCDA said, would be done in four phases within two years.
UNICEF's representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said more vaccines will be sent to the country -- adding that the arrival of the first 3.92 million doses of the AstraZeneca shot was part of 16 million doses that were allocated earlier.
At least 156,017 Nigerians have been infected with Covid-19 and 1,915 have died from Covid-related complications, according to the country's official count.
Findings of a survey released last month by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control and a national institute for medical research suggest that more Nigerians have had the coronavirus than official records show.
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