The Nigerian government has directed all states to halt COVID-19 vaccination once they utilise half of the doses allocated to them.
The Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, disclosed this while speaking at the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 weekly briefing on Tuesday.
According to Mr Mamora, the directive became necessary as the country is unsure of when the next batch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines will arrive.
He said this will ensure those who have already received the first jab of the AstraZeneca vaccine get the necessary second jab.
“We believe that in a situation where we still cannot specifically determine when the next batch of AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive, then I think wisdom only dictates that we should vaccinate people fully,” Mr Mamora said.
“So we can say that we have a pool of citizens that have been fully vaccinated since this vaccination comes in two doses.”
Nigeria commenced COVID-19 vaccination on March 5 having received 3.94 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines through COVAX, a UN-backed effort that promises access to vaccines for up to 20 per cent of participating countries’ population
The vaccination started with healthcare workers who are often at the risk of exposure to infections being the first responders to patients.
President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and members of the PTF received jabs of the vaccines publicly to drive vaccine acceptance.
Strategic leaders, COVID-19 rapid response team, police officers, petrol station workers and others have since joined the list of people that have received the vaccine.
Nigeria recently received another 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines from telecom giant, MTN, as part of the latter’s contribution to Africa.
The country on Tuesday also received 100,000 doses of Covishield COVID-19 vaccines from India. This will boost the number of Nigerians to be vaccinated by about 50,000, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said at the committee’s weekly briefing on Tuesday.
The Covishield is a brand of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. It is used in over 71 countries including the UK, Canada, India and Brazil.
Clinical trials show that the vaccine has a 76 per cent efficacy rate against symptomatic COVID-19 and is 100 per cent effective in stopping severe infection.
The Nigerian government had announced its plan to vaccinate 109 million people against the COVID-19 virus over a period of two years.
Health authorities said only eligible population from 18 years and above will be vaccinated in four phases.
COVID-19 vaccination has also commenced in all states across the country, according to the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).
As of April 6, 2021, 964,387 persons in Nigeria, had received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, an update by NPHCDA shows.