FG begins giving booster shots, US donates 2.5 million doses

The Federal Government will today (Friday) begin the administration of booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, stated this 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.

Nigeria had on March 5,2021 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, 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 perc ent of its population by 2022, a move which experts had doubted following the country’s low vaccination rate.

The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 a few days ago 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 three 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.

You can’t talk of booster jabs, when some people haven’t received any – AU centre

But the Director of the Africa CDC, Dr John Nkengason while fielding questions from journalists during the weekly press briefing on Thursday said, “African nations have procured 431 million vaccine doses so far and administered 245 million.  You can’t even talk of a booster when you have people who haven’t received their first dose.

“We only have about 7.35 per cent who are fully vaccinated. We are far from even bothering about a booster. We need to get people to take their vaccines. However with the elderly and the immunocompromised because of the decay of antibodies, they should have booster shots.

On the issue of imposition of the vaccine mandate, Nkengasong said, “We can’t win this battle against COVID-19 vaccination. I think that my first order would be to appeal to people to get their vaccine. The second is that if people refuse, then the government will not have a choice but to impose vaccine mandates.

“We do not need to get there if we do the right thing. How long will we be going on with restrictions? We need to go out there and get vaccines.