COVID-19: Hesitancy still strong as FG vaccinates 1.2m Nigerians

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The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 Monday said 1,173,869 Nigerians have been vaccinated with the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccines.

This was disclosed by Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mr Boss Mustapha at a briefing in Abuja.

He said the Presidential Steering Committee was concerned that vaccine hesitancy was still strong in the country.

“The vaccination programme is still progressing but we still have reasons to intensify our campaign against hesitancy. As at date records show that we have vaccinated 1,173,869 representing 58.3% of the eligible persons targeted in the current phase have received the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine. This is low in our estimation,” he said.

Mustapha said Nigeria and the United Arab Emirate (UAE) had reached an amicable resolution on travel requirements.

“For some time now, the situation between Nigeria and the UAE over travel requirements has been under management. I am pleased to inform you that we have reached a comfortable position acceptable to both parties.

“You will recall that we also informed Nigerians that three international points of entry (Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu) would be reopened. Kano has reopened while Port Harcourt and Enugu are almost ready. The key concern of the PSC is the availability of infrastructure for Port Health Services,” he said.

Also speaking, Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said fake COVID-19 vaccines were now in circulation in the country.

He said government would not accept vaccines certificates from private and unverified sources.

The minister said although the number of cases was still low compared to other parts of the world, Nigeria was careful not to declare success “because experience in other countries warns us of the unpredictable pattern of COVID-19 resurgence.

“Study of developments in places like Turkey, India, Thailand and Brazil, with severe disease and high fatality ratios, helps us to recalibrate our response.

“Due to warnings by international police organizations of the high rate of fake COVID-19 vaccines said to be in circulation, and reports of risks of adverse events reported after vaccination, Nigeria will not accept vaccines from private and unverified sources. However, NAFDAC is pursuing initiatives to test and authorize more vaccines for use in Nigeria.

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“In addition to scaling up vaccination, we scaled up surveillance at our points of entry, to reduce the risk of importation of coronavirus variants said to be more contagious and virulent.

“These variants are suspected to be behind the surging COVID-19 cases in Asia and the Americas. In this connection, citizens are strongly advised to defer all non-vital travel to known high burden countries, until their epidemiological situations improve.”

“Once again, our best efforts at pre-emption are to improve vigilance at points on entry, adhere to non-pharmaceutical measures, increase testing and tracing, along with vaccination deployment surge. We are also considering other measures and testing strategies tailored to mitigate risks of importation of virulent strains,” he said.

The minister said government would continue to improve strategies for case management to ensure better survival outcomes for infected persons by continuing training of health workers, stocking up on PPEs, commodities and medication, and working with state and federal hospital case managers, to streamline treatment protocol at Isolation Centers or in home-based care.

“Many more COVID-19 positive persons present voluntarily for treatment now, which is a good sign because it allows easier medical intervention. In the past two weeks only one patient in our Isolation centres had need for oxygen treatment.

“This development has reduced pressure on oxygen need, making it more available for other conditions such as pneumonia, asthma etc. Plans by the Federal Government to build new oxygen plants in all states are well on track, as well as plans by Global Fund to repair or update existing, faulty plants,” he said

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