The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) has stated it has vaccinated 5,770,899 eligible people in Nigeria with the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination as it targets over 100 million people by the end of 2022.

This was disclosed in a press briefing by the Director, Planning Research and Statistics, NPHCDA, Dr. Abdullahi Bulama Garba, on Monday in Abuja, at the Ministerial Press Briefing update on COVID-19 Response.

He stated that the figures were updated as at November 7th, 2021 nationwide, adding that there are eight million doses of vaccines in the country at the moment, and expecting more.

What the NPHCDA is saying

The agency stated that to achieve herd immunity, Nigeria plans to vaccinate 40 per cent of its over 200 million population before the end of 2021, and 70 per cent by the end of 2022.

“To achieve this, the vaccine roll-out was scheduled to be in four phases, starting with health workers, frontline workers, COVID-19 rapid response team, amongst others.

“The second phase has commenced and it’s capturing older adults, aged 50 years and above, and those aged between 18 and 49 years of age,” Garba said.

Mrs Elsie Ilori, Director of Disease Surveillance Department, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), stated that the progress had been made in response to the ongoing pandemic with the fast-paced development of diagnostic, therapeutic, and vaccines globally, variants of concern with increased transmissibility pose a threat.

“Regardless of the differing patterns of disease and deaths seen, the risk of the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants capable of evading human immune responses is a global concern,” she said.

She also added that the Delta variant remains the dominant variant globally, citing that while some countries are achieving set goals for population vaccination (South Korea), including using vaccine mandates, others are easing back on restrictions (Melbourne) and some are contemplating preserving existing restrictions for only the unvaccinated (Austria).

“Many countries in the global north have introduced vaccine booster doses, and have approved the use of COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 years.

“It remains essential to ensure hand and respiratory hygiene, physical distancing, facemask wearing and receiving the full dose of COVID-19 vaccine available.

“We have continued to respond to the pandemic and navigate these terrains by planning strategies on how to continue to live with COVID-19. A return to normalcy will be ensured by, “High levels of testing to ensure complete surveillance including tracking of variants of interest and concern and high levels of vaccination,” she explained.

Ilori said that testing remains core to the response, with the roll out of rapid diagnostic testing continuing across the country.

“Community health workers are being trained on active contact tracing in states and focus is being placed on contacting silent states which do not submit reports on cases, deaths and more.

“With regards to infection, prevention, and control (IPC), health facilities are on the receiving end of training sessions on IPC,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, urged Nigerians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus.

“When you get vaccinated, you protect yourself, your family, friends, and community against the disease,” Ehanire said.