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COVID-19 Vaccine: Nigeria to adopt whole family approach in phase 2

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has announced plans to adopt ”the whole family” approach in the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination.

This, the agency said, is to integrate the exercise into other basic Primary Health Care (PHC) services like childhood vaccination, screening for hypertension, diabetes and malnutrition.

Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director of NPHCDA, disclosed this at a news conference on Tuesday in Abuja.

Shuaib said that this would ensure that while protecting eligible Nigerians against COVID-19, the agency also would be concerned about the total health of individuals and their entire families.

He added that this would further enhance the acceptability of the COVID-19 vaccine across the country.

“We are adopting ‘the whole family approach’ to integrate the COVID-19 vaccination with other basic PHC services such as childhood vaccination, screening for hypertension, diabetes, malnutrition.

“Also, we will give residents another opportunity to listen to NPHCDA, State Primary Health Care Development Agency (SPHCDA) and the State Ministry of Health (SMoH) on how they can improve on personal hygiene, water and environmental sanitation.

”This is particularly important given the large number of cases of cholera that we are recording across the country,” he explained.

Meanwhile, he said that the agency had met with the Director-General of NAFDAC, Dr Mojisola Adeyeye, to finalise a discussion on how to ensure effective vaccine monitoring and accountability experienced in the first phase of the COVID-19 rollout.

He added that this was effected using ‘track and trace’, an innovative approach first used in Nigeria during the first COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

He said that this was why the first phase of the vaccination exercise was declared finished on July 9, as there were no available vaccines in the country, adding that ”this kind of accountability is what we want to replicate in the second phase rollout.

“This is as a result of the leadership provided by the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC), FMoH, NAFDAC, NCDC and of course the NPHCDA,” he said.

According to him, the reason why we had to extend/postpone the launch date of the vaccine is that we want to institute once again, in conjunction with NAFDAC, the track and trace all the way to the health facility where the vaccines would be administered.

He explained that the agency was locally creating labels for the vaccines barcode that would ensure that the tracking and tracing continued like it did in the first phase.

Speaking on the brands of COVID-19 vaccines available in Nigeria, he said that as of Aug. 10, 2021, the country had received 4,000,080 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, donated by the Government of the United States of America.

He, however, said that the country was expecting additional vaccines between August and September 2021, including Oxford AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer.

Shuaib stated that while the agency was hopeful and well-prepared to roll out the second phase vaccination plan, it was by no means oblivious of the fact that there were challenges ahead, especially now that the country had started receiving different brands of COVID-19 vaccines.

“We are aware that Nigerians would want to know if there is a preferred brand. Let me assure everyone that COVID-19 vaccines, regardless of brand, as long as they have been approved by NAFDAC, provide adequate protection against the disease.

“We want to further assure Nigerians that we have strategised with our partners so that there is no confusion on which vaccines will be given to whom.

“For example, all those who have taken their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccines and are due for their 2nd dose would be given their second dose in August as we are expecting up to 588,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX facility.

“This is the first batch that will be coming in the next couple of days, thereafter we will be expecting up to 3.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines to complement what we already have and to make sure we cover not only those who will be taking their second AstraZeneca vaccine but also for those who will want to take their 1st dose of this vaccine.

“In all communications, we have been clear that the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are very effective against the Delta variant as cases are beginning to increase in states like Lagos and Akwa Ibom,” he explained.

Shuaib stressed that only someone who is 18 years and above is eligible to receive Moderna or any other brand of COVID-19 vaccine available.

According to him, it is pertinent to state that mixing one brand of vaccine with another brand in the first and second dose is not allowed.

“Those who have received AstraZeneca as their first dose should receive AstraZeneca as their second dose, while those who will receive Moderna as their first dose will receive Moderna as the second dose when due.

”In a few days, we will take delivery of additional AstraZeneca vaccine and those who are due for the second dose of the vaccine will be prioritised.

“Most brands of COVID-19 vaccine require two doses of varying intervals between the doses for full protection. Moderna is two doses, four weeks apart; Oxford AstraZeneca is two doses six to 12 weeks apart; and Pfizer is two doses, three weeks apart.

“However, brands such as Johnson and Johnson that we are receiving tomorrow (Wednesday) require a single dose for full protection against the virus.

“The initial dose that we will be receiving will be focused on those who are in the hard-to-reach areas (riverine areas, desert areas) and the elderly because they are people who may find it difficult to leave their homes to the health facility for a second dose vaccine,” he explained.

He said that settlements, houses of traditional rulers, markets, motor parks and other places where people congregate would be reached out in the second phase.

He, therefore, urged Nigerians to ensure they complete their doses for full protection.

“Consequently, we want to call on all Nigerians to remain assured that the vaccines that we have are safe and will be deployed next week as earlier communicated.

”The flag-off and rollout of the second phase of the COVID-19 Vaccination programme will be done on August 16th, 2021,” he said.

According to him, the government is currently wrapping up the training of about 40,739 health workers across the national, state and ward levels under the phase 2 strategic vaccine roll-out plan with the focus on improving the delivery, communication, data management, management of the vaccines and logistics.

He however urged Nigerians who had taken the vaccines to speak to their loved ones, friends and colleagues and encourage them to get vaccinated.

“Because for us to stop this pandemic, we need a critical herd immunity that can only be approached when we reach at least 70 per cent herd immunity.

“So, it is not just for the public health expert, but the responsibility of Nigerians who have taken the vaccines and have the right information to provide this information to their loved ones and community members to take the vaccine.

“Even as we increase the vaccination coverage across Nigeria, let us continue to observe the non-pharmaceutical measures such as wearing of facemask, physical distancing and hand hygiene,” he advised.

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