Since the beginning of the 20th century, the world has witnessed several crises which are epidemic and pandemic in nature. In the year 1918-1920, the Spanish Flu is popularly known as Influenza occurred and affected about one-third of the world population. In the 21st century, the SARS outbreak occurred in 2003, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak occurred in 2015, and the latest recent novel (2019-2020) Coronavirus (COVID-19). All these are known to have negatively affected the world economy.
The current pandemic COVID-19 is caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (WHO 2021, Cucinotta et al., 2020). It is an acute respiratory infectious disease which was originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019, and swiftly become a global threat affecting 220 countries (WHO, 2021, Helmy, 2020). As of September 2021, there are more than 219 million cases (infected persons) and more than 4.55 million deaths recorded worldwide (WHO, 2021). In the African continent, there were about 4% cases of mortality, and Nigeria having 193,000 cases and 2,480 deaths (Worldometer, 2021).
The pandemic has resulted in a devastating impact globally, which prompted the limit to a movement among other restriction policies to contain the pandemic (Ilesanmi, 2020a), as most countries strategy was to lessen the transmission of the disease, especially by non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), such as enforcing hands sanitization, face masks policy, travel restrictions, social distancing, and complete or partial lockdowns (Ilesanmi, 2020b). So far, these interventions have not been able to curtail the spread of the disease, but they are effective strategies to minimize the spread if properly adhered to.
Medical technologies have been put in place to prevent and cure the disease; among are affordable, safe, and effective antiviral vaccines and drugs. Despite the high mortality rate in the world as a result of COVID-19, there were no approved antiviral drugs and vaccines to specifically fight against SARS-CoV-2 (Ilesanmi, 2020c) till the end of November 2020. As of December 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted an Emergency Use Authorization for critically ill COVID-19 patients (FDA, 2020; Beigel et al., 2020). Nonetheless, the WHO recommended that this is not effective for COVID-19 but can only suppress the intensity of the disease (Rochwerg et al., 2020).
Vaccines are interventions effectively used to reduce disease's high burden globally. They are usually reliable and cost-effective public health interventions for saving millions of lives (Rodrigues et al., 2020, Ehreth, 2003) from polio, yellow fever, measles, etc. Following the trend of the SARS-CoV-2 in the second, third, and fourth quarters of 2020 (Wu et al., 2020) and the global pandemic declaration by the WHO in March 2020 (Cucinotta et al., 2020), public and private stakeholders including scientists and pharmaceutical organizations have resulted to developing vaccines (Coustasse et al., 2021). It is pertinent to note that as of January 2021, at least 85 vaccines have been subjected to preclinical trial in animals, and 63 vaccines passed the test and were subjected to clinical development in humans. From these 63 vaccines, 43 were approved for phase I; from these 43, 22 were approved for phase II; from these 22, 18 were approved for phase III; from these 18, 6 were finally approved for early use though later restricted; from these 6, 2 vaccines were approved for total use though one vaccine has been neglected (Coustasse et al., 2021). Pfizer-BioNTech’s (BNT162b2) and Moderna's (mRNA-1273) mRNA vaccines were approved for use, but Pfizer-BioNTech’s (BNT162b2) was widely accepted.
With the news about the approval of COVID-19 vaccines, there is a tendency that the high surge of disease transmission will be minimized (Omer et al., 2020). Nonetheless, there are hindrances to achieving the general acceptability of the vaccines, among the hindrances are the issues surrounding individual perception regarding the vaccine which is influenced by the level of socio-economic factors of an individual (such as education, age, culture), source of information, personal encounter, among all (Omer et al., 2020, MacDonald, 2020), and more rampant in Africa and Nigeria (Ilesanmi et al., 2020c). Vaccine hesitancy was recognized by the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) as a "delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccination despite the availability of vaccination services” (Huo et al., 2016).
With the introduction of new health interventions, there are uprising issues regarding the interventions. For instance, the polio vaccination program in northern Nigeria was not accepted because of the wrong teachings of Islamic clerics (Jegede, 2007). This experience was also recorded in Ghana where community members did not comply with the de-worming interventions (Dodoo et al., 2007). The major factor that was responsible for these rejections was a result of the lack of clarification (misunderstanding) on the interventions (Febir et al., 2013).
It is therefore obvious that peoples’ knowledge of any infectious disease influences their acceptability of the interventions (vaccines) provided for tackling such disease. The acceptability of vaccine intervention is determined by three major factors: convenience [relative ease of access to the vaccine; physical availability of the vaccine; affordability and accessibility to the vaccine (Ilesanmi et al., 2020)], confidence [faith in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine; faith in the dynamics of healthcare delivery system; and faith in the policymakers (Zimmer et al., 2020)], and complacency [this is connected with diseases that are low risk and may not necessarily require vaccine; hence there are more negative acceptance towards the intervention of such diseases (Olaimat, 2020)].
Studies were conducted on the acceptance of citizens to the usage of COVID-19 vaccine, among the studies are Olaimat et al. (2020) on knowledge and information sources about COVID-19 among university students in Jordan; Pogue et al. (2020) on the influence of attitudes regarding potential COVID-19 vaccination in the United States; Malik et al. (2020) on the determinants of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance in the United States; Lazarus et al. (2020) on a global survey of potential acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States; Coustasse et al. (2021) on the challenge of COVID-19 and vaccine hesitancy in the United States must overcome; El-Elimat et al. (2021) on the cross-sectional study of acceptance and attitudes toward COVID-19 vaccines in France and Jordan.
Furthermore, Huo et al. (2016) conducted a study on the knowledge and attitudes about the Ebola vaccine among the general population in Sierra Leone; Febir et al. (2013) on the community perceptions of a malaria vaccine in the Kintampo districts of Ghana; Solís et al. (2021) on the COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and hesitancy in low and middle-income countries in Asia, Africa, and South America, Russia; and Olapegba et al. (2020) on COVID-19 knowledge and perceptions in Nigeria; Ilesanmi and Afolabi (2020a) on the perception and practices during the COVID-19 pandemic in an urban community in Nigeria.
The majority of these studies were conducted with the use of online respondents; they employed a cross-sectional approach of methodology; multinomial and binary logistic regression was found to be a dominant test of data analysis. However, the studies were most prevalent in the developed countries while scarcity of such studies in developing countries and Nigeria in particular. Because the level of acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines and the perception of COVID-19 differs among citizens of different countries, this study examines the acceptance of Nigerians to the usage of the COVID-19 vaccine.