Compulsory vaccination helps conquer fears in Nigeria

Mandatory vaccination policy introduced by the Federal Government of Nigeria in all its public institutions has contributed to an increase in the number of vaccinated people.

  • 25 February 2022
  • 5 min read
  • by Michael Odiegwu
Boss Mustapha, the Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19
Boss Mustapha, the Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19


Uchechi Nwachukwu, an employee of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), had started to believe conspiracies around COVID-19 vaccines. Nwachukwu, who works in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, says she was afraid of taking the vaccine shots. 

"I conquered my fear and rushed to the primary healthcare centre at my area and took the vaccine. I feel safer and healthier now."

“I hate injections and vaccination was the last thing on my mind. I was afraid. Besides, I never wanted to travel out of the country so, out of fear, I decided to stay away from the vaccines," she says.

But Nwachukwu’s decision did not last long. A compulsory vaccination policy was declared by the Federal Government of Nigeria and took effect from December 1, 2021. The government has made it mandatory that all workers in its public institutions must either be vaccinated or risk losing their jobs.

The Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF), Boss Mustapha, who made the announcement, insists that all civil servants must be vaccinated against COVID-19. Mustapha, who doubles as the Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, says employees who fail to get vaccinated will be barred from their places of work.

“With effect from 1 December 2021, federal government employees shall be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours, to gain access to their offices in all locations within Nigeria and our Missions. An appropriate service-wide advisory/circular will be issued to guide the process,” he said at the time.

Besides the federal government, some states in the federation like Edo declared compulsory vaccination for all residents and barred unvaccinated persons from public facilities. The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, says people without COVID-19 vaccination cards will not be allowed access to banks, wedding reception venues, churches and mosques, among other public places.

Though there was some initial resistance, especially in Edo, the policy compelled many citizens, including Nwachukwu, who were afraid of the vaccines until now to re-evaluate their stance.

Nwachukwu says, “I remembered how I suffered to get this job and told myself ‘I can’t afford to lose my job’. That policy also compelled me to make independent inquiries about the safety of the vaccines. Instead of depending on those unverified conspiracies, I conducted my own investigations and discovered that the vaccines were safe and those who took them had no problems. I conquered my fear and rushed to the primary healthcare centre at my area and took the vaccine. I feel safer and healthier now.”

An employee of the Otuoke Federal University, Azee Joseph, says immediately after the federal government gave the directive, the school authorities issued a circular asking all workers to get vaccinated or lose access to the school premises.

Joseph says, “Before the circular, I never considered taking the vaccine. The directive helped me to re-examine my fears around vaccination and I discovered they were baseless.”

Just like others, Madam Margaret of the Department of Humanities, University of Port Harcourt, told everyone around her that nothing would ever make her take the vaccines. But she said the compulsory vaccination imposed on all persons travelling abroad helped her conquer her fears about the vaccines.

University of Port Harcourt
University of Port Harcourt

She says, "I had told everyone around me that I wasn't going to take that COVID-19 vaccination no matter how much they impose it on people. But then, my daughter had complications from an operation she had in 2020 and the case was becoming worse by the day. We booked for a surgery outside the country but our only option to go and do the operation was to get vaccinated and be isolated for two weeks."

She adds, "I value the life of my daughter. I had no other choice. I took it and discovered that the vaccines are safe, despite my initial fears. I feel protected now."

Public Relations Officer at the Bayelsa State Ministry of Health, Idimie George, says the federal directive has been enforced on all public institutions to a reasonable degree and it has helped to increase the public awareness on the safety of the vaccines.

He says, “It is creating a lot of awareness, which has limited the spread of the virus. It has also reduced people’s fears because they have the knowledge that the vaccines are safe. Many people have opted to take the vaccination willingly.”

Figures have shown that the policy on compulsory vaccination has increased the number of vaccinated people in Nigeria. Towards the end of December 2020, about four weeks after the policy took off, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) reported that 10,153,074 people had received their first jab compared to 6.6 million people before the policy. The agency also reported an increase in the number of persons who received the second jab from 3.5 million to 4,443,297.