The executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, has said the COVID-19 vaccine trains the immune system to create antibodies.
Shuaib, who made this assertion during an interview with newsmen in Abuja, said COVID-19 vaccines help the immune system make protein antibodies which fight off infections and diseases.
“If you get vaccinated and then come into contact with the particular bacteria or virus that causes the disease of which you are vaccinated against, your immune system will recognise it and will offer you some level of protection by producing the right antibodies.
“The COVID-19 vaccination offers partial protection within two weeks of the first dose. This is why it is recommended that all doses of the vaccine are taken for longer-term protection against the virus,” he explained.
The NPHCDA boss stated that the spike protein on the COVID-19 vaccine allows it to enter the human cells and helps the body make antibodies that recognise this spike protein in the virus and fight it off.
“This means that if you choose to take a vaccine, you are less likely to get severely sick if you encounter the virus,” he said.
Also, he mentioned that it was safer to gain protection against the disease by taking the COVID-19 vaccine because the vaccines do not contain a live virus and cannot cause disease.
The NPHCDA boss said that choosing to get the COVID-19 vaccine is good for all eligible Nigerians and their loved ones.
He reasoned that, as more eligible Nigerians take the vaccine, fewer people would become sick and there would be a reduction in the progression of the disease.
He stated that this would help to protect everyone in the community who cannot take a vaccine, like children and other vulnerable people. “This is called herd immunity or herd protection.”
According to him, as with all vaccines, there may be some side effects after having the COVID-19 vaccine. This does not mean the vaccine is unsafe. Common side effects can affect at least one in 10 people who take the vaccine.
“These reactions are usually mild and last only a day or two. They are part of the body’s normal immune response to a vaccine.
“Not everyone will experience side effects after the vaccine. If you don’t have any side effects, the vaccine is still working,” he explained.
He said that the COVID-19 vaccine is free, safe and effective. He stressed that the country had four brands of COVID-19 vaccines received from the COVAX Facility and the African Union.
“They are AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines.
A booster dose is the additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine taken after the full dose of any brand of the vaccine for further protection against the virus.
“Consequently, for a two-dose vaccine, the booster dose will be the third dose while for a single-dose vaccine, the booster dose will be the second dose.
“You need a booster dose because as the COVID-19 virus keeps mutating, a booster dose is recommended to enhance your immunity and provide you further protection against the emerging variants.
“The vaccine does not affect one’s fertility nor does it alter your DNA. It is available and accessible to all eligible Nigerians.”
Shuaib said that the agency has implemented strategies aimed at ensuring that COVID-19 vaccines reach the last mile and the strategies were supported by partners to achieve the desired coverage across the country.
“Places in armed conflict and hard-to-reach locations have also been prioritised by NPHCDA and partners, and will never be forgotten during this pandemic,” he disclosed.
He said that to ensure the actualisation of the agency’s strategies, the COVID-19 vaccination programme is leveraging the PHC revitalisation objectives.
“The current approach for delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, known as optimised SCALES 2.0 strategy, entails the integration of COVID-19 vaccines with primary health care services.
“This means that parents and caregivers with children or wards aged zero to two years are encouraged to bring their children along to the COVID-19 vaccination site where childhood vaccines are available.
“While the adult receives COVID-19 vaccines, the children are assessed and given the required antigens. This makes the vaccination exercise more family-friendly. We believe this will further motivate eligible persons, including pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Visit the nearest PHC to inquire about the immunisation schedule today,” he said.
He, however, urged health care workers to provide accurate information about the benefits of immunisation and immunisation schedule to parents and caregivers.
Meanwhile, as of July 4, 2022, about 23,627,968 of total eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination, in the country were fully vaccinated. While 11,948,229 of total eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination, were partially vaccinated in 36 states and the FCT.
According to the data, over 21 per cent of eligible persons have been fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine.
Osun State has become one of four states to consistently vaccinate above its daily targeted number of eligible persons.
At least 7 million eligible persons have been vaccinated monthly for the past three months in the country.
The data also listed Nasarawa, Jigawa, Kano, Kaduna and Kwara states as the most performing states in the ongoing COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign across the country.