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COVID-19: NPHCDA fully vaccinates 2.9 million Nigerians

Gloria Essien, Abuja

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The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), says so far, 2,897,201  eligible persons have been fully vaccinated across thirty six States and the Federal Capital Territory.

READ ALSO: Nigeria vaccinates 1,927,141 persons so far – NPHCDA

The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this at the National Vaccines briefing, in Abuja.

He noted that the country had commenced its phase 2 vaccination in 35 states plus the FCT.

For clients who have not had any vaccination, the Moderna Vaccine is available and is being administered currently in all designated health facilities in the Country, while those who have had their 1st dose of AstraZeneca vaccine are encouraged to visit their designated health facility to get their 2nd dose,” he advised.

The NPHCDA boss disclosed that the the UK government generously donated an additional 592,880 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine,which was received on Aug. 26, 2021 through the COVAX Facility.

The total quantity of vaccines donated by the UK Government stands at 1,292,640 doses. The additional doses would be included in the 2nd dose vaccination exercise currently ongoing for clients who have already taken the 1st dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the 1st phase. 

“I, therefore use this opportunity to once again call on those who received the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine before July 8, 2021 to go and get their second dose to be fully protected against all strains of the Coronavirus,”he added.

He called on Governors to continue to provide leadership in the mobilization of citizens to prioritize the acceptance of COVID-19 vaccine.

We are particularly enthused by the example shown by the Governor of Edo State, His Excellency Godwin Obaseki, as he mobilized churches and religious leaders towards mass acceptance of COVID-19 vaccine. 

“Already, we are getting requests from Edo State for additional vaccines. This is highly commendable,” he said.

According to him, Nigeria and the rest of the world need to end the pandemic, recover from its economic adversities and return to normalcy. However, getting this done will be difficult if we do not face the issues of misinformation and disinformation squarely.

As a rule of thumb, we endeavor not to join issues with individuals who would rather concoct misinformation that could negatively affect the health of citizens. 

“This is because even acknowledging some of these falsehoods elevates and adds fuel to a raging flame that benefits only the perpetrator. 

“Nevertheless, we are constrained by the volume of specific enquiries about a viral text message which purports that the US Supreme Court has cancelled universal vaccination. 

“Let’s set the record straight and once again punch holes in the malicious intentions of anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists: The US Supreme Court has not “overturned universal vaccination” there is no record of such a case, and there is no such thing as “universal vaccination” in the US. So this is another case of “Fake News,” he explained.

Shuaib stressed that there was often a lot of uncertainty in crisis situations, and this leads people to come together and share information in a collective, sense-making process.

This process can sometimes get things right, but it can also get things wrong, thereby producing rumors that turn out to be false. As Nigerians, when we hear or read an information, we must always verify the credibility of the source, whether the information is internally consistent, and whether there is supporting evidence. 

“Nigerians are encouraged to always reflect on the veracity of the claims they encounter. People need to understand that disinformation is fundamentally exploitative, it tries to use our religion, our patriotism, and our desire for justice to outrage us and dupe us into faulty reasoning, he added.

He noted that the country’s success in wild polio virus eradication was not without similar challenges.

The false claims currently disseminated that COVID-19 vaccines are intended for genetic manipulations were similar to the claims that polio vaccines were intended to kill Muslims, but today, thanks to our resilience, solidarity and collective will, we have cause to celebrate our hard-won victory over wild polio virus in Nigeria,”He stressed.

The NPHCDA boss reiterated that vaccine was a reliable and proven tool for prevention and control of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.

“A vaccine works by stimulating the immune system to induce immune cells and proteins, called antibodies, that confer immunity or protection against the disease. 

The mRNA technology used to develop the new coronavirus vaccines has been in development for almost two decades. 

“Scientists developed the technology to help respond quickly to pandemics, such as COVID-19. It is therefore ridiculous when the anti-vaccination campaigners claim that COVID-19 alters the human DNA or that people will die in two weeks or two years after vaccination. 

“Similar claims, that polio vaccines were intended to cause infertility and kill our children, were made in the past but today, many of the children who received polio vaccine have grown to adulthood, become parents and are fulfilling their various dreams. 

“No child in the country died of polio vaccination. It is therefore critically important for us all to always seek correct and accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines from reliable sources, so that we can be rightly guided to dispel fake news and misinformation from individuals or groups driven by mischief,” he added.

He, however, noted that the agency would  continue to work closely with all states to optimize logistics for the full take off of the phase 2 vaccination exercise in order to ensure maximum utilization of available vaccines in Nigeria.

Let me again remind us that the ‘whole of family approach’ in this phase of vaccination exercise gives all children aged 0 to 12 months the opportunity to receive childhood vaccination and get screened for malnutrition while adults aged 40 years and above can check their blood pressure and know their diabetes risk status among others,” he noted.

Shuaib disclosed that the Presidential Steering Committee(PSC),  and the Federal Ministry of Health was exploring ways of making vaccines more available to all Nigerians including Federal Civil Servants and Corporate entities.

Once these vaccines are made equitably available to all Nigerians, then we would need to have a frank discussion about justice, fairness and liberty that exist around vaccine hesitancy. 

“If some individuals refuse to take the vaccine, hence endangering those who have or those who could not due to medical exemptions, then we have to apply the basic rule of law which stipulates that your human right stops where mine begins. So, you have a right to refuse vaccines, but you do not have the right to endanger the health of others,”He stressed.

He assured Nigerians that the Federal Government was very alert on the safety and efficacy of the various range of vaccines they were using in the country, and that was why they were not compromising on any component of the vaccine logistics at Federal and state levels.

He appealed to all health workers to remain steadfast in discharging their professional responsibility to Nigerians.

Shauib said that the Federal government was working hard and supporting the states in ensuring that Nigerians were protected against COVID-19.

This is a collective fight in which we all have responsibility as Nigerians to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our community,” he added.

He reminded all Nigerians that evidence of vaccination against COVID-19 was now mandatory for all pilgrims to the holy cities of Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem.

Urging both religions who were planning to perform pilgrimage next year or in the future, to get vaccinated now to avoid any delays.

This is also to bring to our attention, that as the COVID-19 vaccines become available worldwide, some countries have made vaccination a requirement to gain access to their country.

“The COVID-19 vaccines are available in all states across the country. We urge all eligible Nigerians to take advantage of its availability and get vaccinated.

“As you get vaccinated, please remember to continue to wear your face masks, observe hand hygiene, observe physical distancing until we achieve herd immunity. Also remember to convince your loved ones, friends and colleagues that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective,” he advised.

Nigeria now has three COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved for emergency use, by the World Health Organization(WHO).

On his part, WHO Country Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo commended the NPHCDA under the leadership of Dr. Shuaib on the improvement brought onto the Electronic Management of Immunization Data (EMID) to ease registration and profiling of clients, prior to vaccination during vaccination.

This will undoubtedly aid the availability of real-time data for action and showcasing to the global community, how COVID-19 response is improving technology for Primary Health Care (PHC) service delivery in Nigeria“. Mulombo said.

He said that at the global level, WHO is calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September, to enable at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated.

The reason for this call is, vaccine injustice is a shame on all humanity and if we don’t tackle it together, we will prolong the acute stage of this pandemic for years when it could be over in a matter of months. In Africa, the third wave appears to have stabilized but the number of new cases is still very high with almost 248 000 reported in the past week. The trend we see is that each new wave strikes Africa faster and harder, reaching a higher number of new cases more rapidly than the previous wave. This puts an increasing strain on already stretched health facilities and health workers“. He said.

He noted that the good news is that increasing vaccine supplies raise hopes that the continent will meet the target of vaccinating 10% of the population by the end of September.

He noted that equitable access to safe and effective vaccines is critical to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, so it is hugely encouraging to see vaccines listed for emergency use by WHO being available for use in Nigeria.

The Country Rep however said that to understand the recent upward trend that Nigeria is experiencing, we must remind ourselves that:  “Weak observance of preventive measures, increased population movement and interaction have heightened the risk of COVID-19 resurgence in many States. These factors can contribute to increased case numbers. This ebb and flow in the pandemic’s transmission dynamics is expected and is likely to continue, until a sizable proportion of the Nigerian population is vaccinated“. He said.  

The WHO also continues to recommend a strong public health response, and for individuals to continue to protect themselves by getting vaccinated, maintaining a physical distance, wearing a mask, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, cleaning hands and following respiratory hygiene.

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