COVID-19: FG plans to vaccinate 112 million Nigerians by 2022

• Vaccinated over 3 million fully as 5.7 million gets first dose so far

The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency,(NPHCDA), said it has vaccinated 5,770,899 of total eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination reached with the first dose, while fully vaccinated no fewer than 3,146,885 of total eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination.

The Director of Planning Research and Statistics, NPHCDA, Dr Abdullahi Bulama Garba, disclosed this in Abuja, at the Ministerial Press Briefing, update on COVID-19 Response and Development in the Health Sector.

Garuba stated that this was on November 7, 2021, in the 36 States including the FCT as he disclosed that there were over eight million doses of vaccines in the country at the moment, but the country was still expecting more doses.

He emphasized that to achieve herd immunity against the infection, Nigeria had set an ambitious goal of vaccinating 40 per cent of its over 200 million population before the end of 2021, and 70 per cent by the end of 2022.

“To achieve this, the vaccine roll-out was scheduled to be in four phases, starting with health workers, frontline workers, COVID-19 rapid response team amongst others.

“The second phase has commenced and it’s capturing older adults aged 50 years and above and those with comorbidities aged between 18 and 49 years of age,” he explained.

Also speaking, the Director of Disease Surveillance Department, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control(NCDC), Mrs Elsie Ilori, while, given an update on Nigeria’s COVID-19 situation, stressed that while progress had been made in response to the ongoing pandemic with the fact-paced development of diagnostic, therapeutic, and vaccines globally, variants of concern with increased transmissibility pose a threat.

According to Ilori: “the pandemic continues to play out differently across countries worldwide. Notably, Africa had seen fewer severe cases and deaths but despite limitations of testing has experienced similar transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in its population.

“Regardless of the differing patterns of disease and deaths seen, the risk of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants capable of evading human immune responses is a global concern”.

“Delta variant remains the dominant variant globally alongside existing safety measures, widespread vaccination was providing a means for the world to exit this pandemic”.

“While some countries are achieving set goals for population vaccination (South Korea) including using vaccine mandates, others are easing back on restrictions (Melbourne) and some are contemplating preserving existing restrictions for only the unvaccinated (Austria)”.

“Many countries in the global north have introduced vaccine booster doses, have approved the use of COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 years”.

Ilori however said that as much as it seems like Nigerians have moved on from COVID-19, it was still in existence, and people were still becoming infected and sadly, dying.

“Despite the differences in the disease pattern across countries, Nigerians have the same patterns of risk for the elderly, those with other diseases e.g., hypertension and diabetes, the immunosuppressed, etc as seen elsewhere”.

“It remains essential to ensure hand and respiratory hygiene, physical distancing, facemask wearing and receiving the full dose of COVID-19 vaccine available”.

“We have continued to respond to the pandemic and navigate these terrains by planning strategies on how to continue to live with COVID-19. A return to normalcy will be ensured by”.

“High levels of testing to ensure complete surveillance including tracking of variants of interest and concern and high levels of vaccination”

Ilori also stressed that testing remains core to the response, with the rollout of rapid diagnostic testing continuing across the country.

“Community health workers are being trained on active contact tracing in states and focus is being placed on contacting silent states which do not submit reports on cases, deaths and more.

“With regards to infection, prevention, and control (IPC), health facilities are on the receiving end of training sessions on IPC,” she explained.

“The Emergency Operations Centre remains active, weekly coordinating the response in the Incident Coordination Centre with all pillars represented and partners contributing also travel restrictions”.

“On the Oct. 25, revised travel restrictions were released and took effect. Key changes to the protocols include the removal of travellers from Brazil, Turkey, and South Africa from the list of restricted countries”.

“In addition, key highlights are that: a negative COVID-19 PCR test results should not be conducted more than 72 hours before boarding flights for travel.

“There is no longer self-isolation as a requirement for fully vaccinated inbound passengers, however, there must be a COVID-19 PCR test done on Day 2 of arrival.

“7-day self-isolation is mandatory for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals in addition to COVID-19 PCR tests on days 2 and 7 after arrival.

“Additionally, people arriving on official/business trips 7days must be fully vaccinated, test negative 72 hours before boarding and conduct a PCR test within day 2 of arrival,” she explained.

She added that the ravel portal was undergoing revisions to improve it and it was hoped that the challenges of the past would become history on completion of the process.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, admonished Nigerians to take action to protect the vulnerable by practising safety measures and ensuring they were vaccinated if they were eligible.

“It is strongly recommended you get vaccinated against COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus. When you get vaccinated, you protect yourself, your family, friends, and community against the disease”.

Ehanire further emphasized that all the brands of vaccines used in the country were safe and able to deliver protection against COVID-19 for any eligible person who was vaccinated.

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