The Federal Government has explained why it asked all states administering the COVID-19 vaccine to stop the exercise the moment they used half of the doses allocated to them.
The Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, gave the explanation at Tuesday’s media briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.
Mamora explained that the directive became necessary since the country was not sure when next the second batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine would arrive the country.
He said it was also to enable those who had received their first jab to be able to complete their vaccination.
According to him: “It is true the directive to states to vaccinate half of the doses deployed.
“We believe that in a situation where we still cannot specifically determine when the next batch of AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive, then I think wisdom on dictates that it’s better for us to vaccinate people fully.
“And so, we can say that we have a pool of citizens that have been fully vaccinated, since this vaccination comes in two doses.
“So that’s what gave rise to that directive, rather than just going ahead with just single dose when the full dose should be two doses of the same.
“So we felt that it was proper for us in the circumstance to ensure that those who have been vaccinated have been fully vaccinated.”
The Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, assured that the agency was investigating the reported blood clotting in some individuals that had taken the first jab of AstraZeneca vaccine.
Ihekweazu said: “There’s been ongoing investigations that we have all been following on the suspected link that the AstraZeneca vaccines to certain rare experience of blood clotting in individuals in Europe.
“Those investigations are still ongoing.
“Not all European countries are adopting the vaccines for their populations.
“In Nigeria, with every vaccine, we have a parallel system to measure and to monitor any side effects.
“That is ongoing and is being managed by the National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control in collaboration with National Primary Health Care Development Agency.
“We will continue to monitor patients in Nigeria.
“You know, every demographic is different.
“The demographic in taking vaccines in every country is different.
“The interaction between different drugs people are taking.
“So there are many circumstances that need to be fully evaluated.
“We will look at the data ourselves here in Nigeria and I will take action as needed.
“So I think for now, we can be sure that we have an effective vaccination programme going on.
“And we’re very responsive to the concerns of Nigerians.
“I will respond to them as appropriate.”
Also, the NPHCDA Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, clarified that the AstraZeneca vaccines and Johnson and Johnson vaccine could not be taken by the same individual.
Shuaib was responding to a question on if Johnson and Johnson vaccine can be taken in a case where the second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine was not available.
He said: “I mean, that is not right.
“You cannot take the AstraZeneca on your left and Johnson and Johnson on the right.
“So it has to be both doses of AstraZeneca and not a single shot of the Johnson and Johnson.”
On the reported side effects of the AstraZeneca, Shuaib said: “I think we have said on multiple occasions here that there are side effects of these vaccines.
“Side effects of vaccines are not unique to the COVID-19 vaccine.
“So one thing that we continue to tell vaccinators is that even before people take the vaccines, they should be educated on the potential side effects.”
Meanwhile, Boss Mustapha, the Chairman of PTF on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said civil servants in Grade Level 12 and below would continue to work from home.
Mustapha said it was because there were certain red flags that needed to be interrogated further.
The SGF said the PTF would inform the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation as to when it would be appropriate for them to return.