By Abujah Racheal
Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director and CEO of NPHCDA, said this at a press conference hosted by NPHCDA and the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday in Abuja, on the status of COVID-19 vaccination in the country.
“Of more than one million people who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria, 8,439 people experienced mild adverse events after immunization (AEFI) and 52 people experienced moderate to severe adverse events while receiving the vaccine.
“While mild reactions include body pain and swelling, moderate to severe side effects shown were fever, vomiting, diarrheal headache, dizziness, and allergic reactions,” he explained.
Shuaib said there had been no deaths from the administration of the vaccine and no cases of blood clots related to the administration of the vaccines in the country.
The DE further stated that five states had the highest AEFI records, namely: Kaduna (970) Cross River (859), Yobe (541), Kebbi (511) and Lagos (448). He said these cases were being investigated to make sure they were caused by the vaccination.
Shuaib reaffirmed that there is currently a global shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, forcing the federal government to reassess vaccine supply forecasts.
He said this prompted the decision to ensure that everyone who had taken the vaccine in the current phase received the second dose before the next shipment was delivered to Nigeria.
“In addition, as a result of this comprehensive program review to address the challenges of global vaccine demand and supply mismatch, and the late start of immunization in some states, we are extending the period of eligibility between first and second doses 12 weeks to 8 to 12 weeks.
“This is still in line with the scientific recommendation provided by the World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE on Immunization) that the two doses of the vaccine be given at an interval of 8 to 12 weeks,” he explained.
Regarding vaccine acceptability, he explained that the NPHCDA plans to become more involved at the community level across the country, by organizing zonal public meetings in all geopolitical areas to facilitate discussions on COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria. from April 20.
Also speaking, World Health Organization (WHO) country representative Dr Walter Kazadi reiterated that the benefits of taking the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines far outweigh the risks.
He noted that the more than 200 million cases of AstraZeneca vaccines had been administered worldwide.
Regarding the availability and equity of vaccines, Kazadi said WHO is currently lobbying rich countries that stock vaccines to release them so they can redistribute doses and make them available through the COVAX mechanism or through bilateral agreements with countries most in need.
He added that WHO was hiring all manufacturers for technology transfer, in order to have more sites that could manufacture the vaccines and increase production.
The country representative stressed the need for Nigeria to follow the immunization plan to ensure that priority groups are given priority.
The Nigerian News Agency (NAN) reports that in order for the country to achieve collective immunity against COVID-19, it had set an ambitious goal of vaccinating 40% of its more than 200 million people before the end of 2021 and 70% by the end of 2021. end of 2022.
The country has launched vaccination since March 5, 2021. The country has started vaccination with health workers who are mostly at risk of infection being the first responders.
He noted that the vaccine deployment would take place in four phases, starting with health workers, frontline workers, the COVID-19 rapid response team, the laboratory network, police officers, staff of service stations and strategic leaders.
The immunization agency said as of April 15, only 1,051,096 vaccines had been administered in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He noted that the proportion of eligible people vaccinated in the country was 52.2% as of April 15.
NAN reports that the country has received 3.94 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through COVAX, a UN-backed effort that promises access to free vaccines for up to 20% of the population of participating countries.
The delivery is part of a total of 16 million doses that are expected to be delivered to Nigeria in batches over the coming months.
In addition, on March 21, the country received 300,000 additional doses of the same vaccines from telecommunications giant MTN.
On April 6, the Indian government also delivered 100,000 doses of Covishield COVID-19 vaccine to Nigeria.
With only around 4.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines available in the country, Nigeria is still a long way from meeting its set target, according to health experts.
Due to the limited doses of vaccine available, the federal government has ordered states to stop immunizing once they have used up half of their allotted doses.
The government said the directive became necessary because the country was unsure of when the next batch of AstraZeneca vaccine would arrive in the country. (NOPE)
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