COVID-19: Nigeria Yet to Vaccinate 50% of Target Population, Says FG

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• 33 million vaccines so far procured

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The federal government has said the country was yet to vaccinate 50 per cent of its eligible population since the exercise began last year.

It, however, said there are clear plans to reach the target of vaccinating 56.8 million (50%) of eligible Nigerians by the first quarter of 2022.

Manager, COVID-19 Crisis Communication Centre, Dr. Binta Bako, who spoke in Abuja, yesterday, noted that between March 2021 to date, Nigeria had received about 33 million doses of different types of COVID-19 vaccines.

While giving update on the vaccination exercise, Bako said: “We haven’t reached the 50 per cent of our target population, about four million people which is less than 50 per cent of those who have received their first dose vaccination have received their second dose.”

Bako said only Nasarawa and Jigawa states have reached over 50 per cent of their target population.

She also said the booster dose was very important for optimal protection and should be taken six months after the second dose had been taken.

Bako said the data that was taken did not take into consideration time interval but based on the previous campaigns.

She further disclosed that the country had been was using only Pfizer vaccine for the booster dose since December 10, 2021, and has now started using it as first and second doses as well.

Bako said the agency had identified some success factors that could be linked to states with high performance in the ongoing mass vaccination roll out, adding that states with high performance had been seen to have a high level of ownership with regards to implementation of the SCALES strategy rolled-out by the government to ramp-up COVID-19 vaccinations.

According to progress report by NPHCDA, as at January 8, 2022, 11,594,316 persons (9.8%) had received the first dose; 4,759,637 (4.3%) received the second dose, while 155,278 had been given booster dose.

Bako said that going forward lessons would be drawn from high performing states, such as Nasarawa, that had implemented laudable initiatives.

“In line with the strategy of the NPHCDA, a joint task force was immediately constituted chaired by the Executive Secretary including directors of NAPHDA, the State Security Services, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the State Ministry of Health as members,” he added.

Speaking on strategies adopted to increase vaccination figures, Bako said motorised rallies were organised across each the local government areas in country.

She added that entertainment by artists and comedians using local languages in tertiary institutions, motor parks and all the designated mass vaccination sites were also undertaken.

Bako also urged Nigerians who had taken their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccines too come for the second dose.

Also speaking at the event, the Director Communication and Advocacy at the National Primary HealthCare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Eunice Damisa, said the agency had expanded access to vaccines, adding that this led to increased coverage and reduction in hesitancy.

“We are engaging community gate keepers like the traditional and religious leaders across the country to build confidence of their followers on the efficacy of the vaccines.

“There is a time interval between the first and second dose. While we acknowledge the fact that we are having drop outs in terms of people not coming for the second dose when it is due,” she said.