COVID-19: NPHCDA Urges Nigerians To Get Vaccinated

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…Says long period of pandemic coming

The executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib.
The executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib.

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has called on Nigerians to get vaccinated in good time, as there are no quick-fix cures to the coming ‘long’ COVID-19.

The executive director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib said this today (May 24, 2022) during the handover of four million, four hundred thousand doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Government of Spain. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), ‘long’ COVID is a condition characterised by long-term consequences persisting or appearing after the typical convalescence period of COVID-19. 

It is also known as ‘post-COVID-19 syndrome’, ‘post-COVID-19 condition’, ‘post-acute sequelae of COVID-19’ or ‘chronic COVID syndrome’. 

According to Shuaib, it is possible for those who feel they can easily recover from COVID-19 if contracted, but for some who get this virus, they may recover from the acute phase of the infection but still have long-term side effects of this disease. 

“’Long COVID’ can affect nearly every organ system, with sequelae including respiratory system disorders, nervous system and neuro-cognitive disorders, mental health disorders, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, musculoskeletal pain and anaemia. 

“A wide range of symptoms are commonly reported, including fatigue, malaise, headaches, shortness of breath, anosmia, parosmia, muscle weakness, low fever and cognitive dysfunction,” he said. 

The NPHCDA boss said that the functional impairment associated with long COVID has a significant social, psychological and economic effect on individuals and the communities. 

He said, in addition, management of this syndrome was likely to continue to be an additional burden on the already heavily strained healthcare systems.

Shuaib said that as of May 24, 2022, 29,651,708 eligible persons have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccines, and this represents 23.4 percent of the country’s eligible population. 

“14,179,966 persons have received the 2nd dose and 17,702,018 are fully vaccinated and represent 15.8 per cent of our eligible population. 1,178,604 persons have received the booster dose,” he said.

Shuaib said that the donation came when it was most needed as the country was rapidly ramping up its full vaccination coverage. 

“The single-dose regimen of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will enable us to move rapidly towards achieving herd immunity,” he stated. 

The ED said that these figures show that the country was a far cry from its target of 70 per cent of its eligible population. However, these donations will help towards achieving our target.

“If we keep up with vaccination, the likely scenario is that even though the virus continues to evolve, the severity of the disease will reduce over time, as the immunity increases due to vaccination. 

“But if the majority of our eligible population in Nigeria and globally continue to remain unvaccinated, what we may see is that a more virulent and highly transmissible variant could emerge, sooner or later which would be worse than any variant seen,” he explained. 

According to him, new estimates from the WHO show that the full death toll associated directly or indirectly with the COVID-19 pandemic which is described as excess mortality, between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021, globally was approximately 15 million (range 13.3 million to 16.6 million). 

“This means that we lost about 15 million persons globally within two years as a result of the pandemic. This is heart-wrenching,” he said. 

He disclosed that a few weeks back a country that had closed its borders and had refused to accept international assistance finally announced to the world that they were having about 200,000 cases of COVID-19 per day. 

“We all know that a number of these cases could have been avoided if the vaccines were made available to its citizens. We would like all Nigerians to know that the COVID-19 vaccines are available, they are free and they are effective.

“Vaccines don’t save lives, vaccinations save lives. A vaccine is of no benefit if it sits on the shelf and does not get deployed or if the arms of the eligible population are not available for vaccination.

“I, therefore, urge all persons aged 18 years and above including pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers who are yet to receive their COVID-19 vaccines or who are due for their second or booster dose to visit the nearest health facility and get vaccinated,” he appealed. 

He said that striving to vaccinate 70 percent of the eligible population of every country remains essential for bringing the pandemic under control and Nigeria is working hard to ensure its citizens have access to the life-saving vaccines.

 According to him, we will continue to work with all stakeholders, partners and communities to ensure an inclusive COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Nigeria. 

He said to improve access, the agency has integrated COVID-19 vaccination with routine immunisation and other primary healthcare (PHC) services.

“This means that parents and caregivers can take along their children when going for their COVID-19 vaccination as childhood vaccines have been prepositioned for vaccination of children against childhood killer diseases at health facilities and other COVID-19 vaccination sites. 

“Also, PHC services such as blood pressure checks and assessment for diabetes are available for adults,” he said. 

The NPHCDA commended the Government of Spain and the European Union for their support to Nigeria as they collectively work towards a world without COVID-19. We thank our partners and donors for their sustained support,” he commended. 

Racheal Abujah
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