By Hassan Zaggi
The World Health Organisation (WHO), has advocated for what it christened as ‘a moratorium’ on booster COVID-19 vaccine doses until at least, the end of September.
Booster doses are given to vaccinated people, that is, people who have completed their primary vaccination, to restore protection after it has waned.
The UHC/ Life Course Cluster Lead of the WHO, Dr Kofi Boateng, stated this at a media briefing organised by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), in Abuja.
It would be recalled that some countries, including the US are currently debating on whether or not to administerthe booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine due to the emergence of the Delta variant of the diseases which is said to be more dangerous.
Dr. Boateng, however, said that “third doses should be prioritized for the vulnerable: those most at-risk populations when there is evidence of waning immunity against severe disease and death. They are not for the fit and healthy.
“We are still finding out more about the length and strength of protection of different vaccine products across different populations and will update our recommendations as needed based on the latest evidence. “When global supplies are so limited, when the world is in a place where billions of people have not yet received any doses, we must focus on administering first and second dose.”
He, however, applauded the NPHCDA for establishing the South West Zone Traditional Leaders Committee on PHC and conducting the 3rd Quarter Norther Traditional Leaders Council meeting.
Boateng insisted that the continuous engagement with traditional leaders would significantly sustain the increasing trends of the COVID-19 vaccine uptake in Nigeria.
Week on week analysis, he explained, have shown that the average daily uptake of 1st dose of Moderna and 2nd dose Astrazenca has increased to 94381 and 14916 respectively.
This, he said, needed to be sustained.
While lamenting the level of inequities in access to vaccines, the WHO expert said: “More than 5 billion vaccines have now been administered globally but almost 75% of them have been administered in just 10 countries. In low-income countries fewer than 2% of adults are fully vaccinated, compared with almost 50% in high‑income countries.
“Africa requires 272million and 922million COVID-19 doses to reach 10% and 40% target in September and December respectively 2021.
“In Africa, Vaccine hoarding has held Africa back and we urgently need more vaccines. As more doses arrive, countries must drive forward precise plans to rapidly vaccinate millions of people.”
Boateng recalled that Nigeria has witnessed increasing trends of Delta variants, insisting that: “Getting vaccinated from COVID-19 is even more critical now.
“COVID-19 vaccination in addition to IPC measures, would avert severity, hospitalization and death from Covid-19. I therefore want to urge all persons eligible for Covid-19 to avail themselves for vaccination.”
Speaking earlier, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, warned Nigerians to note the number of COVID-19 cases recorded in this third wave.
He, therefore, cautioned Nigerians to “remember that the Delta variant is highly contagious, more than twice as contagious as previous COVID-19 variants and the more a community/society remains unvaccinated, the more they allow this virus to mutate to other more virulent forms.
“We have the vaccines to stop this mutation process and prevent deaths related to this disease.
“I therefore encourage us to take advantage of the efforts by the Federal Government to ensure citizens are safe and protected from this virus.”
In an effort to ensure that all Nigerians get vaccinated, Dr. Shuaib, said that his agency has initiated a process that will enable some workers who may find it difficult to leave their duty post to the vaccination site to be vaccinated in their offices.
He disclosed that his agency has introduced what he called ‘expanded in-situ corporate vaccination.’
This, according to him, entails making special arrangement for eligible staff, dependants and retirees of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) and the private sector to get vaccinated in their office premises.
He said that the MDAs, public and private corporate organization that require staff to be vaccinated should visit www.nphcda.gov.ng to fill the request form.
These services, Dr. Shuaib, reiterated, would be provided at no cost to the Ministries, agency/cooperate bodies.
He, therefore, called on states and LGAs “should please note that no fees/levies should be mandated from the cooperate bodies when teams are sent to provide these services.”