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Nigeria not dumping Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, says NPHCDA

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The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) has said that Nigeria is not dumping the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine for Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.

Meanwhile, the agency has directed states that have reached 50 per cent mark of people vaccinated to stop vaccination to enable them to have enough vaccines for the second dose.

The NPHCDA National Coordinator for Covid-19 vaccines in Adamawa state, Mohammed Isa who disclosed this at the Media Dialogue on Routine Immunization and Covid-19 vaccination organized by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, explained that considering the resumption of other countries vaccinating with the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, there is a global shortage, it is not clear when Nigeria will get the next batch of the vaccine.

He said, "As it is now across the country, all the states that have reached the 50 percent mark of people vaccinated have been asked to stop vaccination because initially we had the idea that we are going to have more batches of AstraZeneca vaccine coming in-country but considering the resumption of other countries vaccinating with the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, there is a global shortage, we are not clear when we will get the next batch of the vaccine, I think it is logical to say when you attain 50 percent vaccination, they should stop giving the vaccine.

Isa noted that about 2 million Nigerians have received the first dose of the Astrazeneca vaccine according to call-in data from the field while official data on the NPHCDA platform shows that over 2.3million persons have been vaccinated in the country.

He said, "According to the clean data we have, Nigeria has vaccinated over 1.3 million people because we have the call-in and the data we have in the NPHCDA platform which is the official platform Nigeria will be using now to say this is the number of people we have vaccinated with the doses that we have in-country. But however from what we are seeing from the field, we are reaching about 2 million people but it shouldn't be a cause for worry because we have some donations, for instance, the Indian government gave us 100,000 doses, a philanthropist gave us 1 million doses, and we have other donations like MTN, we also have other states that might not utilize up that 50 percent, so we are going to push vaccines to those states that have reached the 50 percent and they will have surplus".

"When Johnson and Johnson comes from the African Union, we are going to push the vaccine to the states but if you have received the Astrazeneca vaccine, you cannot receive any other vaccine except Astrazeneca to avoid complications. Nigeria is not dumping the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine for Johnson and Johnson, we are going to use both vaccines complimentarily, we might even have Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in-country and if we have Pfizer vaccine, we have the capacity to store both at the National and sub-national levels", he added.

Isa who however revealed that the agency is giving priority to people going for pilgrimage, said, "This is because we know that without receiving the vaccine, they may not be allowed to go for pilgrimage or they have to be given the vaccination there and if they give you a vaccine that we don't have here in Nigeria, it will a problem when they come back to Nigeria".

Also speaking, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Communication Officer in Borno state, Folashade Adebayo noted that a total of 75,510 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine was deployed to Borno state adding that about 31,604 persons have been vaccinated.

She observed that UNICEF is working with local authorities, religious, traditional and influential individuals in Borno state to prevent vaccine hesitancy and convince people in the communities to take the Covid-19 vaccination in order to reduce the number of people who will succomb to the pandemic.

Adebayo noted that the organization is working hard to dispel rumors and conspiracy theories around Covid-19 vaccines to ensure that what happened in Borno state during the early stage of polio immunization does not repeat itself in the state in the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination exercise.

She said,"We all know the rumors and resistance that happened during the polio vaccination which caused a lot of deaths, we want to reduce the number of people who will succomb to Covid-19. There was hesitancy at the early stage of polio immunization and this cause a lot of damage and we don't want such incident to repeat itself. We present scientific evidence to them ensuring that the right information is out there and that people take the vaccine and also continue to practice non-pharmaceutical interventions.

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