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NPHCDA: Nigeria’s 70% COVID-19 Vaccination Target Was Successful

According to Dr. Bassey Okposen, the Director of Disease Control and Immunisation in the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Nigeria has successfully achieved its target of fully vaccinating 70 percent of its population against the COVID-19 pandemic.

He spoke during an interview with journalists on Wednesday in Abuja stating that Nigeria had a target of fully vaccinating 70 per ent of its eligible population by December 2022, “The 70 per cent coverage of COVID-19 vaccines in all countries is a global imperative. In Nigeria, 70 percent of eligible persons are fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” he said.

He said that 80 per cent of eligible persons in the country were at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 and 17.5 million fully vaccinated persons in Nigeria have received additional COVID-19 vaccines as booster doses.

The NPHCDA Director stated that as of October 1, 132,212,099 vaccine doses had been administered in the country, noting that six states achieved 100 per cent of the target population vaccinated in the country, “These states are Nasarawa, Jigawa, Osun, Kaduna, Kano, and Adamawa.”

According to him, the milestone marks a crucial step in the country’s efforts to combat the ongoing pandemic and safeguard the health and well-being of its citizens.

“With an unwavering commitment to public health, Nigeria’s vaccination campaign has surpassed expectations, demonstrating the nation’s determination to control the spread of the virus and protect its population from the devastating impacts of COVID-19,” he said.

He said that vaccinating 70 per cent of a country’s population against COVID-19 means that a significant portion of the population has received the required doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“This level of vaccination coverage is often considered a crucial milestone in achieving herd immunity and controlling the spread of the virus within a population. Herd immunity, also known as population immunity, occurs when a large proportion of a community becomes immune to a disease, either through vaccination or previous infection.

“When a high percentage of the population is immune, it creates a barrier that prevents the virus from easily spreading from person to person. This not only protects those who are vaccinated but also provides indirect protection to those who are unable to receive the vaccine due to medical conditions or other factors,” he explained.

He said that by vaccinating 70 per cent of the population against COVID-19, a country greatly reduces the risk of widespread transmission, severe illness, and death caused by the virus.

“It also helps to alleviate the burden on healthcare systems and allows for a gradual return to normalcy, including the reopening of businesses, schools, and other public spaces. However, it is important to note that achieving a 70 per cent vaccination rate does not mean the end of the pandemic. The virus can still circulate among unvaccinated individuals, and new variants may emerge, requiring ongoing monitoring and potential updates to vaccination strategies.”

The NPHCDA Director, however, urged Nigerians to continue adherence to public health measures, such as wearing masks for those with COVID mobilities, practising good hygiene, and maintaining social distancing, which remains crucial even with high vaccination rates in the country.

Speaking on strategies being used by the country, he explained that several strategies, including SCALES 3.0 (SCALES is an acronym for service delivery, communication, accountability, logistics, electronic management of immunisation data, and supportive supervision), and the integration of COVID-19 into routine immunisation employed to deliver the vaccine to target populations.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) official website, as of October 31, 2023, over 5,708,974 samples have been tested, 266,675 cases confirmed, and 259,953 cases discharged from the virus.

Meanwhile, there are currently 3,567 active cases and 3,155 deaths.

Since the COVID-19 vaccination began in the U.S. in mid-December 2020, Africa has been looking forward to its turn. For Nigeria, the time came on March 2, 2021, when the first batch of 3.9 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in the country from the Serum Institute of India.

Also, since the vaccination campaign began in the country, seven vaccines have been approved for use in Nigeria, and three of them are approved for clinical trials.

The vaccines that will be used during the campaign are Moderna: Spikevax, Pfizer/BioNTech: Comirnaty, Gamaleya: Sputnik V, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson): Jcovden, Oxford/AstraZeneca: Vaxzevria, Serum Institute of India: Covishield (Oxford/AstraZeneca formulation), and Sinopharm (Beijing): Covilo, Vaccine Type: RNA; this vaccine may also be referred to as Tozinameran, BNT162b2, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson): Jcovden, and Oxford/AstraZeneca: Vaxzevria; this vaccine may also be referred to as AZD1222, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.