The Federal Government will today (Friday) begin the administration of booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
This was made known by the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, on Thursday in Abuja as the Africa Centre for Disease Control, an agency of the African Union, kicked against the introduction of booster doses in African countries.
On March 5,2021, Nigeria commenced COVID-19 vaccination with a total of 3.94 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX institute of India.
This was followed by a vaccination break due to the ban of vaccine transportation by the Serum Institute of India, the main supplier to the COVAX facility.
In August 2021, Nigeria resumed her second phase of vaccine with donations of Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines which were received through donations from foreign countries.
The country also received several doses of the J and J vaccine which it procured through a joint partnership with other African Union countries through the AVATT facility.
So far in Nigeria, only a total of 3,867,815 have been fully vaccinated with a total of 7,449,989 taking the first dose.
The Nigerian government had also mentioned its plan to vaccinate about 70 percent of its population by 2022, a move which experts had doubted following the country’s low vaccination rate.
A few days ago, the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 directed vaccinated Nigerians to go for booster doses following detection of three cases of Omicron variant of the virus in the country.
Before the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control announced the cases, Canada had said it detected the variant in two persons with travel history to Nigeria.
The North American country subsequently placed a travel ban on Nigeria.
Other countries that have placed travel ban on Nigeria include the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.
In Abuja on Thursday, Shuaib stated, “The Federal Government reviewed the country’s vaccination programme and resolved to introduce the booster dose using the Pfizer Bio-N-Tech vaccine across the country. This will take effect from tomorrow, Friday the 10th of December 2021.
“It is pertinent to reiterate the fact that the Nigerian COVID-19 vaccination programme is science-driven. Evidence has shown that the booster dose further increases protection against the virus.
“Eligibility for the booster dose includes being 18 years and above, fully vaccinated with either two doses of AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer Bio-N-Tech or a single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The time interval before the booster dose is at least six months for these vaccines, except the Johnson and Johnson which is at least two months.
“This is another opportunity to be further protected. I therefore urge all those who have taken the right decision to be fully vaccinated, to walk into the nearest vaccination site for their booster dose as from tomorrow (Friday).”
A coronavirus booster vaccine dose helps improve the protection after receiving the first two doses.
In a related development, the United States Embassy has received 2.5 million Pfizer vaccine doses in Abuja, which were presented to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency for cold storage.
The vaccines will be distributed to over 3,000 health facilities across the country.
The mission in a statement on Thursday, titled, ‘US donates additional 2.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Nigeria this week,’ said the vaccines would be available at major markets, shopping malls, event centres, motor parks, airports, places of employment, and religious institutions as part of Nigeria’s mass vaccination campaign.
It said, “To date, the United States has donated more than 13.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with COVAX, or bilaterally to Nigeria.
“Additionally, the United States has provided more than $119 million in COVID-19 related health assistance. This includes a 40-bed mobile field hospital, ventilators and related training for 88 hospitals, personal protective equipment, technical assistance for vaccine readiness, risk communication and demand generation for vaccines, conducting an epidemiological COVID-19 detection and vaccine hesitancy survey, setting up electronic record systems, rapid response teams, training for over 200,000 military and civilian personnel on COVID-19 control measures, and technology for virtual training.”
In addition, the US said it had also leveraged the PEPFAR-supported National Integrated Specimen Referral Network and laboratory investments to support the expansion of the 153 molecular laboratory network nationwide.
The mission quoted the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who noted earlier this month that “the COVID-19 pandemic won’t end for any country until it ends for all countries.
“Otherwise, the virus will keep replicating around the world, people will keep getting sick and dying, and we won’t be able to safely reopen our economies or travel around the world for business and tourism the way we used to. That’s why the United States is committed to helping end the pandemic in Nigeria and everywhere.”
The US expressed its commitment to donate more than one billion vaccine doses around the world, by early 2022 and in African countries primarily through the COVAX initiative.