From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government has said that 1,692,315 eligible Nigerians have received two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in the six months it commenced the vaccination of its citizens against the rampaging coronavirus.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, made this disclosure at a briefing by the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on Monday.
He also said as of Monday evening, 4,052,756 eligible Nigerians have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines.
“This is made up of 2,645,020 persons with the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine and 1,407,736 persons with the first dose of the Moderna vaccine.
“A total of 1,692,315 eligible persons are fully vaccinated and we currently have a national average of 70.4 per cent utilisation of the 2,000,040 doses of modern vaccines we received,” he said.
Giving an update on states vaccination, the NPHCDA boss said the sub-national level of government have been advised not to exceed their 50 per cent utilization rates for Moderna vaccines in order to reserve the second doses for all those already vaccinated.
He added that the majority of the states have reached this percentage and that priority have now shifted to administering the AstraZeneca vaccine as the first dose vaccine in all states across the country.
Shuaib urged states yet to publish their vaccination sites to do so across the various media platforms – Newspapers, radio, TV, and social media, to enable people to locate their nearest vaccination site.
“The list of vaccination sites across the country is also available on the NPHCDA website www.nphcda.gov.ng Eligible persons who are unable to register by themselves can go to any designated health facility where he/she will be assisted by our vaccination team,” he said.
NPHCDA boss stressed that the state governments have the responsibility to protect the vaccines and vaccination cards sent to them.
Shuaib said states found to be condoning any acts of corruption in the process of vaccination will no longer be allocated vaccines.
“We have received reports of people trying to procure cards from health workers, these reports are being investigated and anyone found wanting would be prosecuted.
“It is important to emphasize that it is in the interest of public safety and collective well-being of Nigerians that the Federal Government has made available these vaccines free to all eligible persons,” he said.
Shuaib reiterated that the government will continue to work with stakeholders and partners to ensure the delivery of safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the government has urged Nigerians to continue to take the non-pharmaceutical measures of the COVID-19 protocol seriously, warning that the Delta variant which is full of surprises is already dominant in the country hence the need to keep the protective measures in place and increase testing.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said: “The dreaded third wave of COVID-19 may appear to be levelling out because there have been no catastrophic increases in infections and fatalities. But it is not wise to assume that the threat is gone, especially as cases are fluctuating and have to be identified by genomic sequencing. The evidence so far, however, is that the Delta strain is already dominant in Nigeria. We must keep our protective measures in place and increase testing to determine our situation.
“There are reports of new coronavirus mutations circulating in other countries, a development we shall monitor with all tools available to us, to ensure we respond appropriately. We also remain on alert at Points of Entry, including land and sea borders, to confront the importation of COVID-19. Several cases have been indeed been identified by Rapid Diagnostic test and taken care of accordingly.”
Giving an update on vaccines, the Minister said the government had secured nearly 40 million doses of J&J vaccines to be arriving at a rate that NPHCDA would set, to align with their utilization strategy.
According to him, “all states have received doses of AstraZeneca, Moderna and J&J vaccines for the ongoing 2nd phase of the vaccination exercise in all States. The federal government has done due diligence to ensure vaccine quality and safety.
“Available data shows that there have been no serious adverse effects so far, following vaccination so that confidence in vaccines we are using is upheld. We have a good mix and quantity of vaccines and do not envisage shortages, despite news reports that vaccines allocated to Africa will be reduced by 25 per cent soon. We believe the reduction may be linked with increased demand in high-income countries many of whom have commenced 3rd booster doses of COVID-19 and or reduced vaccine eligibility age in their countries to 12 years or even less. This tells us that the vaccine is effective and that we should also accept it.
“The government has secured nearly 40 million doses of J&J vaccines to be arriving at a rate that NPHCDA will set, to align with their utilization strategy. We shall also surely receive donor doses, so that we do not expect to be impacted by the expected shortfall.”
The federal government has removed India from the list of red flag countries blacklist from entering Nigeria
The chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee, Boss Mustapha said the decision is in view of the improved situation in that country.
He said in compliance with laid down protocols remains a source of worry to the PSC, however, insists that the country is on its way to adopting a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon to align with existing global protocols and realities.
He appealed to health workers to consider the health situation in the country and call off the strike while Government continues to look into all matters that will improve the system, processes and welfare.
Efforts are ongoing to implement the policy on Vaccine Mandate for all Federal Public Servants. This is to ensure safety in the workplace and at home. The
Nigerians are advised to always carry their vaccination card details or barcode on their electronic devices for easy access especially for those travelling outside the country.