LAGOS. – Prayers and hymns filled the Ikoyi Baptist Church at a recent Sunday sermon before the pastor delivered a message from the pulpit: Do the right thing and get the jab.
Downstairs in the carpark in the wealthy Ikoyi area of Nigeria’s economic capital Lagos, worshippers in their Sunday finest lined up to register for a first shot of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Fearing a surge in cases over the holiday season and wary of new variants, Nigeria is recruiting religious leaders, churches, mosques and government offices to mobilise its vaccination campaign.
Those worries will likely deepen after Nigeria, on Wednesday, reported its first cases of the Omicron variant that has prompted new travel bans.
Nigeria has fully vaccinated only 3.5 million people and given 6.5 million one shot – far off a target of innoculating around 112 million, or 70 percent of the adult population, by the end of next year.
For a religious society like Nigeria, churches and mosques have in the past proven effective in mobilising sceptical communities to get vaccinated as they were with a polio campaign a decade ago.
“The mosques and churches get the largest crowds. It is also a way to reduce the risk and access more people,” said Dr Atinuke Onayiga, a senior Lagos health official visiting the Ikoyi church. – AFP