Over 8000 Nigerians Have Side Effects from AstraZeneca Vaccine…NPHCDA

Over 8000 Nigerians Have Side Effects from AstraZeneca Vaccine…NPHCDA

Nigeria’s vaccine implementation body, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), says no fewer than 8,439 persons across the country have reported mild side effects after they received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. This is coming against the backdrop of the halt of its use by Denmark amidst isolated severe cases of blood clots and

Nigeria’s vaccine implementation body, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), says no fewer than 8,439 persons across the country have reported mild side effects after they received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. This is coming against the backdrop of the halt of its use by Denmark amidst isolated severe cases of blood clots and suspected deaths, in people who had previously been vaccinated against COVID-19, with the shot, heightening worry over the safety of the jab.

Speaking during a press conference in Abuja on Friday, NPHCDA Executive Director, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said those who reported severe side effects were less than 100, adding that there has been no record of death or blood clots associated with the distribution of the vaccine.

“Out of over a million persons given the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria, 8,439 persons have suffered mild adverse events following immunisation (AEFI), and 52 persons moderate to severe adverse events on receiving the jab,” Shuaib said.

“While the mild reactions include body pains and swelling, the moderate to severe adverse events presented were fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, dizziness and allergic reactions.”

“Furthermore, as a result of this overall programme review to meet the challenges of global vaccine demand and supply mismatch, and the late commencement of the vaccination in some states, we are expanding the eligibility period between the first and second doses of the vaccine from 12 weeks to between eight to 12 weeks.

“This is still in line with the scientific recommendation provided by the World Health Organisation’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE on immunisation) that the two doses of the vaccine be given at an interval of eight to 12 weeks.”

The NPHCDA) says Nigeria had so far vaccinated over a million eligible people out of its target of 70 percent of the nation’s population.

The agency disclosed this on its official Twitter handle, on Thursday.

To achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, the country had set an ambitious goal of vaccinating 40 percent of its over 200 million population before the end of 2021, and 70 percent by the end of 2022. The federal government has also slated to spend N396bn on COVID-19 vaccination between 2021 and 2022.

The country kicked off vaccination on March 5, 2021, commencing with healthcare workers who are mostly at risk of infections, being the first responders.

It noted that the vaccine roll-out would be in four phases, starting with health workers, frontline workers, COVID-19 rapid response team, laboratory network, policemen, petrol station workers, and strategic leaders.

“Phase 2 – Older adults aged 50 years and above. Those with co-morbidities aged 18 – 49 years of age

“Phase 3 – Those in states/LGAs with high disease burden and who missed phases 1 and 2.

“Phase 4 – Other eligible population as vaccines become available,” it said.

The immunization agency said that as of April 15, 2021, just 1,051.096 shots had been administered in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), representing 52.2 percent of the eligible people to be vaccinated in the country.

The country took delivery of 3.94 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines through COVAX, a UN-backed effort that promises access to free vaccines for up to 20 percent of participating countries’ population.

The delivery is part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to Nigeria in batches over the next months.

In addition, on March 21, 2021, the country received another 300,000 doses of the same vaccine from telecoms giant, MTN, whilst the government of India also delivered 100,000 doses of Covishield COVID-19 vaccines to Nigeria on April 6.

The COVISHIELD, a brand of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, is used in over 71 countries, including the UK, Canada, India, and Brazil.

With only about a 4.4million doses of COVID-19 vaccines available in the country, Nigeria is still far from reaching its set target, according to health experts.

Due to limited vaccine availability, the Federal government had directed the states to halt vaccination once they used half of the doses allocated to them because the country was not sure when the next batch of AstraZeneca vaccines would arrive the country.

“We believe that in a situation where we still cannot specifically determine when the next batch of AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive, then wisdom only dictates that it is better for us to vaccinate people fully.

“And so that we can say that we have a pool of citizens that have been fully vaccinated since this vaccination comes in two doses”, the NPHCDA explained.

There are also growing concerns about the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine efficacy against coronavirus and its side effects.

US health agencies Tuesday recommended an immediate pause in the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, according to a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) statement released Tuesday.

“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC, and Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said in the joint statement.

The FDA said six vaccine recipients developed rare blood clots within about two weeks of being inoculated.

The recommendation, made in tandem with US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), means that federal vaccine distribution channels, including mass vaccination sites, will pause the use of the single-shot vaccine.

NPHCDA in March said Nigeria intended to begin rolling out the J&J vaccine to almost 30 million people as soon as it can obtain the vaccine supplies.

“We’re hoping that we’ll be able to get up to 70 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson this year. This is yet to be finalised but these are some of the advanced conversations that are going on between Nigeria and the African Union,” said NPHCDA boss Faisal Shuaib.

Nigeria previously said it had applied for 41 million doses of vaccines through the AU, comprising of Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson shots. But Shuaib said the proportion of AstraZenca doses was likely to be reduced by the delays.

“Some of the allocations that we were supposed to get for the AstraZeneca will be replaced by the Johnson and Johnson.”

Nigeria’s reduction in its demand for AstraZeneca comes amidst growing global concerns about AstraZeneca’s efficacy against the SARS-CoV2 virus variant first identified in South Africa, as well as safety concerns that led to the suspension of AstraZeneca in many countries including Germany, Denmark, Iceland, and South Africa.

Nigeria had already commenced the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with vaccines supplied by the WHO co-sponsored COVAX initiative.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has urged Nigerians to get vaccinated against the novel Coronavirus instead of spreading rumours about the efficacy of the vaccine which is to prevent the virus.

Mrs Elizabeth Onitolo, UNICEF Specialist, Communication for Development (C4D), made the call at a three-day media dialogue in Yola on Tuesday.

According to Onitolo, everyone is at risk of contracting the virus and the only way out is to get vaccinated and stop the rumours that the Astrazeneca vaccine has side effects.

She said that government was doing everything to get people to focus on the science that justified the use of the vaccine rather than create sensational politics and unfounded stories around it.

She listed the COVID-19 vaccines around the world to include Pfizer, Oxford Astrazeneca, Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) and Moderns, adding that all performed the same function of prevention.

According to the C4D specialist, there is no natural immunity to COVID-19, hence the need for everyone to continue observing the non pharmaceutical measures which are washing of hands, use of face masks and observing physical distancing.

“COVID-19 vaccine is safe; the vaccine has been certified safe by the World Health Organisation and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

“COVID-19 does not contain any micro-chips as is being speculated in some section; there is need to continue to wear face mask even after vaccination,” she emphasised.

Onitolo, however, urged the media to help address the rumours and myths around the COVID-19 vaccine by telling Nigerians the efficacy and other benefits of the vaccine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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