By Abujah Racheal
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has announced that Nigeria had so far vaccinated over a million eligible people out of its target of 70 percent of the nation’s population.
The NPHCDA disclosed this on its official Twitter handle, on Thursday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that for the country to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, it 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.
The country kicked off vaccination on March 5, 2021, commencing with healthcare workers who are mostly at risk to the infections, being the first responders.
It noted that the vaccine roll-out would be in four phases, starting with health workers, frontline workers, COVID-19 rapid response team, laboratory network, policemen, petrol station workers and strategic leaders.
“Phase 2 – Older adults aged 50 years and above. Those with co-morbidities aged 18 – 49 years of age
“Phase 3 – Those in states/LGAs with high disease burden and who missed phases 1 and 2.
“Phase 4 – Other eligible population as vaccines become available,” it said.
The immunization agency said that as of April 15, 2021, just 1,051.096 shots had been administered in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), representing 52.2 percent of the eligible people to be vaccinated in the country.
Nigeria took delivery of 3.94 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines through COVAX, an UN-backed effort that promises access to free vaccines for up to 20 per cent of participating countries’ population.
The delivery is part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to Nigeria in batches over the next months.
In addition, on March 21, 2021 the country received another 300,000 doses of the same vaccine from telecoms giant, MTN, whilst the government of India also delivered 100,000 doses of Covishield COVID-19 vaccines to Nigeria on April 6.
The COVISHIELD, a brand of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, is used in over 71 countries, including the UK, Canada, India and Brazil.
With only about 4.4million doses of COVID-19 vaccines available in the country, Nigeria is still far from reaching its set target, according to health experts.
Due to limited vaccine availability, the Federal government had directed the states to halt vaccination once they used half of the doses allocated to them, because the country was not sure when the next batch of AstraZeneca vaccines would arrive the country.
“We believe that in a situation where, we still cannot specifically determine when the next batch of AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive, then wisdom only dictates that it is better for us to vaccinate people fully.
“And so that we can say that we have a pool of citizens that have been fully vaccinated, since this vaccination comes in two doses”, the NPHCDA explained.