Nigeria to get additional Covid-19 vaccines from COVAX

Gloria Essien, Abuja

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The Nigerian government says it has confirmed the date for the receipt of more vaccines from COVAX facility.

The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, gave the confirmation at the weekly Covid-19 vaccination update in Abuja.

He said that the vaccines are being expected between the last week of July and early August.

Dr. Shuaib also said that the vaccines are coming from non-Indian facility as India had suspended the exportation of the jab.

“We now have information that Nigeria will get 3.92m doses of Oxford/Astrazeneca by end of July or early August. As we receive additional information on the exact dates in August, we will provide an update regarding timelines and details of this.

Recent research from Public Health England (PHE) shows that the Indian (Delta) variant B.1.617.2 is 92% susceptible to Oxford/Astrazeneca. It is therefore comforting to know that the vaccine used in Nigeria can protect against this variant that caused high morbidity and mortality in India. However, it underscores the need for us to ramp up our vaccination to more Nigerians”, he said.

Major strides
The ED noted that the NPHCDA dedicated teams have continued to make strides in the vaccine rollout, working hand in hand with the local communities all across Nigeria.

“As of today, we have administered 1,978,808 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and 680,345 second doses.  

I will once again remind those listening that we are advising all Nigerians who have received their first dose to check their vaccination cards for the date of their first dose and ensure that they receive the second dose between 6 – 12 weeks after their first dose to gain full protection against Covid-19. Please note that in some cases the location of your second dose may be different from your first dose, so please be sure to confirm this”, he added.

Sensitization
Shuaib said that the agency is fully committed to going to communities to directly discuss the vaccine effort, the importance of staying safe and protected against Covid-19 and answering questions people have.

“We have been really grateful for the high levels of participation and interest in these events. We are confident that through continued awareness raising, we will be able to keep communities safe and healthy”, he said.

He therefore urged all Nigerians who have received their first dose at least six weeks ago to visit the nearest vaccination site to receive their second dose for full protection against Covid-19 on or before June 25 when the administration of the second dose will close.

“Recall that we officially closed the vaccination for the first dose on May 24, 2021. Since then, we have been inundated with requests by Nigerians to be vaccinated. In response, we have decided to reopen vaccination for the first dose from today. This means anyone 18 years and above who has not been vaccinated should visit the nearest vaccination site for the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine”, the ED said.

Increasing cases in Africa
The World Health Organisation Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Mulombo, said that Covid-19 cases are on the rise in the African continent and will soon pass the five million mark.

He said that in the last two weeks, Africa recorded a 53% increase in cases compared with the previous fortnight.

“There are however, five countries (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia) currently experiencing a resurgence”, Mulombo said.

He added that the benefits of vaccination are far greater than the risk of the rare side effects and that the vaccine remains a valuable tool in the fight against severe Covid-19 illness and has been shown to severe illness, hospitalization and reduced deaths due to Covid-19 by over 80%. 

UNICEF Country Representative, Dr. Gupta Gagan, urged Nigerians to go out and receive the vaccine to stay protected.

He said that the threat of a 3rd wave of Covid-19 is real and is rising and called for the sustenance of Covid-19 preventive measures such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning of hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue.

 

Nneka Ukachukwu

 

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