COVID-19: Nigeria Misses WHO Vaccination Target, Experts Task NPHCDA

With Nigeria vaccinating only 20.5 per cent of its population so far, the country has missed the 70 per cent mid-year COVID-19 vaccination target set by the World Health Organisation, The PUNCH reports.

This is even as the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, revealed that only two African countries have achieved the 70 per cent coverage target set by the WHO.

In 2021, the global health body had put forward a global target of 70 per cent total population coverage by mid-2022.

However, the latest data obtained from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, on Thursday, showed that only 20.5 per cent of the total eligible population targeted for COVID-19 vaccination had been fully vaccinated while 10.7 per cent have been partially vaccinated.

The PUNCH reports that Nigeria had missed the global goal of vaccinating 10 per cent of every country’s population by September 30 and 40 per cent of the total population by the end of 2021.

Speaking during a virtual COVID-19 and Monkeypox press briefing on Thursday, Dr Moeti said, “Through the efforts of COVAX and other partners, over 820 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to the continent in a little over a year – 62 per cent by and through COVAX, 30 per cent through bilateral donations or purchase and eight per cent by the African Union and other sources.

“Two African countries, Mauritius and Seychelles, have achieved the ambitious 70 per cent overall coverage target set by WHO. Rwanda, at 67 per cent, and Botswana, at 64 per cent, are not far behind, while seven other countries have fully vaccinated more than 40 per cent of their population.”

Moeti, however, appealed to everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Vaccination is still our best defence against COVID-19 and our best chance of ending the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

A public health physician and Senior Vice President for Africa, Human Health Education and Research Foundation, Dr Ifeanyi Nsofor, said misinformation, insecurity, religious and cultural beliefs are some of the challenges limiting the country from meeting the vaccination target.

Nsofor said, “Apart from states taking responsibility, NPHCDA needs to intensify awareness campaigns and continuously look for innovative ways of getting vaccines to everyone. If we did house-to-house to eradicate polio, we can also try house-to-house to meet the target for COVID-19.”

Another public health physician at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Kaduna State, Dr Aliyu Sokomba, said COVID-19 vaccination is not a priority for people because the infection is not as severe as it used to be.

Sokomba said, “COVID-19 restrictions and policy have been relaxed in most countries and people don’t see the need to get vaccinated any longer. Also, with herd immunity, most people are immune against the disease.”

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