By Abujah Racheal
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has disclosed that so far 2, 897, 201 eligible persons had taken the jab across the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory.
The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this on Tuesday, in Abuja, at the National Vaccines briefing.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that only 2, 897, 201 million people in Nigeria have received their complete dose of the coronavirus vaccine as at Aug. 30, 2021, a far cry from the federal government’s goal of inoculating 70 percent of its citizens by the end of 2022.
The country, which now has three COVID-19 vaccines that had been approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO), has commenced its phase 2 vaccination in 35 states and the FCT, according to Shuaib.
“ 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 first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine are encouraged to visit their designated health facility to get their second dose,” he said.
The NPHCDA boss disclosed that the the UK government had 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 second dose vaccination exercise currently ongoing for clients, who have already taken the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the first 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 Corona virus,” 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 of the Governor of Edo State, His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki, as he mobilized churches and religious leaders towards mass acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Already, we are getting requests from Edo state for additional vaccines. This is highly commendable,” he said.
Shuaib stated that Nigeria and the rest of the world needed to end the pandemic, recover from its economic adversities and return to normalcy.
However, getting this would be difficult if we do not face the issues of misinformation and disinformation squarely, he added.
“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 rumours 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 also reiterated that vaccines were reliable and proven tools 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 a 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 stated 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 said.
Shuaib disclosed that the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) and the Federal Ministry of Health were exploring ways of making vaccines more readily 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 exists 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 said.
He assured Nigerians that the Federal Government was very alert to the safety and efficacy of the various vaccines used in the country and that was why it was not compromising on any component of the vaccine logistics at Federal and state levels.
Shuaib appealed to all health workers to remain steadfast in discharging their professional responsibility to Nigerians, saying 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 a 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 Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem, urging adherents of both religions, who are 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 have achieved herd immunity.
”Also remember to convince your loved ones, friends and colleagues that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective,” the NPHCDA boss advised. (NAN)