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23 months on, Nigeria still below 70% COVID-19 vaccination target

Nigeria is yet to meet 70 per cent COVID-19 vaccination 23 months after it commenced the exercise to achieve herd immunity.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, had, in 2021 said Nigeria had enough vaccines to cover over 70 percent of the country’s population before the end of 2022.

Mustapha, who is also the Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee, said, “There is no gainsaying that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, which was triggered when the index case was confirmed on the 27th of February 2020, precipitated significant disruptions to the healthcare system and socio-economic lives of Nigerians.

”Due to the evolving dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic with progressive mutations of the virus to more transmissible and deadly variants, the international community has corroborated the insinuation that the pandemic will persist for a few more years.

“This understanding has impelled world leaders recently to come to a conclusion that if efforts are not renewed and aggressive measures are not taken, the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to ravage humanity well longer than earlier envisaged. Hence the need to adopt an ambitious (but cautious) agenda to end the COVID-19 pandemic by the year 2022.
“Nigeria has invested in enough vaccines that can cover over 70 per cent of our population before the end of 2022. These vaccines are safe and efficacious, hence it is better and safer to be vaccinated against this virus, now.”

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However, the data obtained from the official Facebook page of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency showed that as of February 8, only 67,086,853 of the total eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination have been fully vaccinated.

The figure represents only 57.8 per cent of total eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination.

Also, only 11,771,555 of the total eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination have been partially vaccinated, which is 11.0 per cent.

Recall that Nigeria received the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines to the country via the COVAX Facility on March 2, 2021, and the government the COVID-19 vaccination on March 5, 2021.

Checks by our correspondent show that only four African countries — Seychelles, Rwanda, Liberia, and Mauritius have fully vaccinated 70 per cent of their population against COVID-19, with Morocco and Cabo Verde coming closer to reaching this same milestone.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said the country has made steady progress in the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

“Although there is progress, there are still pockets of rejections and misconceptions about vaccines.

“This only means that there are persons out there who are aware of how vaccines work, hence there’s a need for us to strengthen our sensitisation to our communities, to ensure everyone is vaccinated,” he said.

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He also noted that the incoming administration needs to invest in primary health care.

He said “We know that the poor health indices in maternal and child mortality and morbidity are generated largely in rural areas with no access to any form of healthcare. We need to do more in terms of advocacy to the coming administration and philanthropists to invest in our PHC and for traditional leaders to demand their own standard PHC, one per political ward, from state and local governments or politicians running for office.

“Routine immunisation is a standard service at PHCs and it is free, safe, effective, and available across the country. Parents and caregivers need to be mobilised to ensure that children receive the vaccines according to the Nigerian RI schedule.”

According to the World Health Organisation, there have been 755,116,409 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 6,831,681 deaths globally, as of February 9.

Also, as of January 31, 2023, a total of 13,168,935,724 vaccine doses have been administered globally.

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