The World Health Organisation has advised the federal government to use the Pfizer vaccine in cities and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in rural areas, as it urges Nigeria to double down on the COVID-19 prevention measures and build on the fragile gains achieved, given that less than two per cent of its population had been fully vaccinated.
The WHO country representative Walter Kazadi Mulombo stated this at a press briefing on Tuesday in Abuja.
Mr Mulombo added that Nigerians must be mindful of discontinuing public health and social measures such as maintaining physical distance, avoiding crowded places and always observing hand hygiene.
“Relaxing them too early could see us losing some of the gains that vaccines have enabled us to make,” he said.
To boost the uptake of vaccines, the government, traditional and religious institutions, and community influencers should scale up operations, invest in operational costs, and step up sensitisation efforts to address vaccine hesitancy, Mr Mulombo added.
He noted that as Nigeria anticipated the use of multiple vaccine types, it was important to draw up strategies to ensure that the vaccine doses were efficiently administered.
Mr Mulombo added that countries deploying multiple vaccines like Nigeria had provided useful lessons on how to administer them by rolling out vaccines with a shorter shelf life first.
“Rollout Pfizer/Moderna in capital city where there is ultra-cold chain storage and other vaccines that can last longer in fridges, in districts, collaborate with (the) private sector to enhance rollout,” the WHO official advised. “Use Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (one dose) for hard-to-reach populations in districts and two-dose vaccines in fixed sites in the centre.”
Concerning the media, Mr Mulombo stated, “Reporting public health issues translates into your surveillance function in the society. With society still grappling with conspiracy theories and infodemics, the credible information that you provide will enhance knowledge and understanding.”
He stated that the WHO would continue to support the Nigerian government to implement measures that would maximise the impact of the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination, including simplifying the rollout at local levels and minimising wastage.
The latest data available for WHO Africa Region showed that weekly COVID-19 deaths in Africa reached a record peak in the week of August 1, marking the highest seven-day toll since the onset of the pandemic on the continent.
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