NIGERIA plans to reach 70 per cent of its total population with COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2022, targeting 40 per cent this year.
It also plans to boost herd immunity to between 70 and 80 per cent, reduce mortality and interrupt the COVID-19 transmission in the country.
Director, Disease Control and Immunisation, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Bassey Okposen, made this disclosure on Friday during a virtual NPHCDA sensitisation meeting with media executives, producers and editors on COVID-19 vaccine introduction in Nigeria on Friday.
According to him, the 40 per cent Nigerians that are expected to receive the vaccine this year include one per cent of health workers, 10 per cent of adults above the age of 50, 17 per cent of persons with comorbidities below 50 years and 12 per cent of other risk groups.
He said the vaccine would be rolled out in four phases, beginning with the mRNA vaccines for health workers and other frontline workers like police and immigration personnel in the first phase that would start by the end of February.
Dr Okposen said 100,000 doses of the mRNA covid 19 vaccines were expected in the country by end of January.
He added that if only 100,000 doses of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine are received, the remaining healthcare workers will be immunised with non-mRNA vaccines in the second phase in 2021 alongside elderly above 50 years.
Dr Okposen added that in 2022, an additional 30 per cent of the Nigerian population would be vaccinated, with high priority placed on states like Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with the highest numbers of COVID-19 infections.
He stated that three sites per state capital and one site per local government would be identified for the mRNA vaccination exercise in the first phase, adding that for the second phase of the vaccination, 10 per cent additional non-mRNA vaccines would be used, with elderly people given priority after health workers.
According to him, already, the number of health workers by state to be vaccinated with the nRNA COVID-19 vaccine in Quarter One of 2021 has been estimated even as the total population targeted for vaccination in the country has been mapped out.
Director, Logistics, NPHCDA, Hajiya Kabura Daradara, said the vaccine would be released to different states a day prior to when the vaccination exercise would be done in each state to ensure that the vaccine potency could be assured.
According to her, while the security of the vaccine at every level of distribution will be ensured, each state is expected to implement the exercise that is to last for five days.
A virologist, Professor Oyewale Tomori, stated that it was a misconception that the vaccine was produced in one year.
He said, “the building block for the vaccine is already there, the same building block used for Zika and other diseases. It has been going on for four to five years and every step was being monitored. Even when the vaccination started in Europe, it was also monitored.”
Professor Tomori declared that it is not true that the vaccine causes HIV or changes the DNA of humans as speculated in the social media.
He said that although the vaccine would not ensure that a person does not contract COVID-19, it would reduce its severity in case it occurs.
He added that even with the vaccine, Nigerians should still take responsibility for their health by wearing face masks, washing their hands regularly, maintaining physical distance and avoiding crowded places.