Elderly people in villages across the country have called on the federal government to give them special consideration in accessing the COVID-19 vaccine because of their vulnerability.
Some of them said besides being very old, they had underlying illnesses like diabetes and hypertension and were therefore susceptible to complications.
Medical professionals have also voiced support for special consideration for the elderly, saying scores of old people died in the villages due to COVID-19 complications.
The people interviewed said they could not register for the vaccination online as directed by relevant authorities, heightening fears that it would take long for them to be considered.
Muhtari Baba, 77, a farmer in Toro, Bauchi State, said he heard about the COVID-19 vaccination on radio. Baba said, “We have not been told how we would access the vaccine; and I want to get it. I thank God I don’t have any underlying ailment, but I know that COVID-19 is real.
“They said people should register using their phones…I don’t have that kind of phone. I pray government will make special provision for us.”
David John, 81, a retired soldier in Jos, said there was need for special consideration for the elderly living in villages.
John said, “This COVID-19 killed many of our contemporaries in the last one year because they didn’t have access to health facilities.
“I lost many of my friends and I believe it was as a result of COVID-19 complications. We thank God Nigeria has started receiving the consignment, but I think the timetable for administering it does not favour the rural poor.”
In Gombe State, Malam Musa Abdu Bamai, 65, of Unguwar Balu area in Dukku LGA, said, “I am a subsistence farmer with two wives and 15 children and residing in a rural area where healthcare services and other social amenities are very poor. As such, the government should first consider us alongside the health workers,” he said.
On his part, a resident of Biri village, Malam Umar Shehu, 62, called for fairness in the distribution of the vaccines.
“As a blacksmith and living in a village, I am still struggling to take care of my family, therefore getting the vaccine will help me get immunity from the virus and continue taking care of my family,” he said.
With an estimated population of about 18 million aged persons in the country, experts say Nigeria’s ageing population increased from 4.5 per cent in 1991 to about 10 per cent in 2018, noting that it was important for older persons to access quality healthcare and social services.