About five weeks after Nigeria commenced vaccination of its citizens against the COVID-19 virus, over a million persons have received the first dose of the vaccine.
As of Wednesday evening, 1,043,737 eligible Nigerians have been vaccinated in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), according to an update by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).
Nigeria commenced COVID-19 vaccination on March 5 after receiving 3.94 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through COVAX, a 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.
Nigeria on March 21 received another 300,000 doses of the same vaccine from telecom giant, MTN.
On Tuesday, April 6, the government of India also delivered 100,000 doses of Covishield COVID-19 vaccines to Nigeria.
The COVISHIELD, a brand of the AstraZeneca vaccine, is used in over 71 countries including the UK, Canada, India and Brazil.
According to Nigeria’s plan, the vaccine roll-out will 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.”
To achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, Nigeria 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.
But exactly a month after vaccination commenced, less than a million citizens had received a jab, indicating a slow start to the process.
Going by the current pace of vaccination, less than nine million people would have been vaccinated in Nigeria by the end of 2021. The figure is less than 40 per cent of Nigeria’s population that was targeted by the end of this year.
Health analysts say they expected a rush in the first phase of the rollout considering that the priority groups – health workers and other frontliners – can easily be located.
With only about 4.4 million 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 doses of vaccine availability, Nigerian government on directed states to halt vaccination once they use half of the doses allocated to them.
The Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, said the directive became necessary since the country was not sure when 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 I think wisdom only dictates that it is better for us to vaccinate people fully,” Mr Mamora said in Abuja penultimate Tuesday.
“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.”
According to the NPHCDA update, Lagos, the epicentre of the disease in Nigeria, has vaccinated 192,061 people; making it the highest in the country.
This is followed by Kano with 56,942, Kaduna-55,604, Ogun-52,513 and FCT with 44,098 vaccinated people.
The states with the lowest number of vaccinated people are Kogi with 5,568 and Abia with 6,081 people vaccinated so far.
As of Wednesday night, Nigeria has recorded 164,000 COVID-19 cases and 2,061 deaths, according to an update by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
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