Nigeria rolls out plan to vaccinate 70% of Nigerians with COVID-19 vaccine over 2-year period

Nigeria plans to reach 70 per cent of its total population with COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2022 to boost herd immunity to 70 to 80 per cent, reduce mortality and interrupt the covid-19 transmission in the country.

Director, Disease Control and Immunisation, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Bassey Okposen said that vaccine would be rolled out in 4 phases and beginning with the mRNA vaccines for the health workers and other frontline workers such as the police and immigration in its first phase starting from the end of February/March 2021.

Dr Okposen spoke at the virtual NPHCDA Sensitization Meeting with Media CEOs, Producers and Editors on COVID-19 Vaccine Introduction in Nigeria on Friday, said 100,000 doses of the mRNA covid 19 vaccines are expected in the country by end of January.

He added that if only 100,000 doses of the mRNA covid 19 vaccines are received, the remaining healthcare workers will be immunized with non-mRNA vaccines in the second phase of in 2021 alongside elderly above 50 years.

According to him, the 40 per cent Nigerians that are expected to receive the vaccine in 2021 will include 1 per cent of health workers, 10 per cent of adults above age 50 years, 17 per cent of persons with comorbidities below 50 years and12 per cent of other risk groups.

Dr Okposen added that in 2022, an additional 30 per cent of the Nigerian population will be vaccinated, while then prioritizing states in the country like Lagos and FCT with the highest numbers of covid-19 infection cases.

He, however, declared that three sites per state capital and one site per local government would be identified for the mRNA vaccination exercise in the first phase, adding that for phase 2 of the covid 19 vaccination, 10 per cent additional non-mRNA vaccines would be used and elderly people are given priority after health workers.

According to him, already the number of health workers by the state to be vaccinated with the nRNA covid-19 vaccine in quarter 1 of 2021 has been estimated even as the total population targeted for vaccination in the country has been mapped out.

Hajia Kabura Daradara, Director, logistics, NPHCDA, said that the vaccines will be released to different states a day prior to when the vaccination exercise will be done in each state to ensure the vaccine potency can be assured.

According to her, while the security of the vaccines at every level of distribution will be ensured, each state is expected to implement the exercise that is to last for 5 days.

Professor Oyewale Tomori, a virologist stated that it was a misconception that the vaccine was produced under one year.

According to him, “the building block for the vaccine is already there, the same building block used for Zika and other diseases. It has been going on for 4 to 5 years and every step was being monitored. Even when the vaccination started in Europe, it is also monitored.”

Professor Tomori declared that it is not true that the vaccine causes HIV or changes the DNA of humans as speculated in the social media but assured that although the vaccine would not ensure a person does not contract the COVID-19 but reduce its severity in case it occurs.

He added that even with the vaccine, Nigerians should still take responsibility for their health by wearing facemasks, washing of hands regularly, maintain physical distance and avoid places that are crowded.

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