By Sola Ogundipe
How does a vaccine work?
A vaccine works by “showing” the immune system an important part of the virus and “training” it to recognise and remember the pathogen without exposing the patient to the risk of disease.
Traditional vaccines do this by injecting a killed or weakened form of the virus into the human body, so the immune system recognises the invader, and begins summoning its “soldiers” – antibodies and T-cells – to get rid of it.
What does the Covid-19 vaccine do?
COVID-19 vaccine stimulates the body’s natural defences (immune system). It causes the body to produce its own protection (antibodies) against the virus. This will help to protect you against COVID-19 in the future. None of the ingredients in the vaccine can cause COVID-19.
How is vaccination done?
The vaccine is injected into a muscle usually in the upper arm. You will receive 2 injections and will be told when to return for your second injection which can be given between 4 and 12 weeks after the first injection.
Is vaccination free?
Covid-19 vaccination is free for everyone in Nigeria. However you must be at least 16 years old to be eligible and you should register for the exercise on the website of the NPHCDA.
Is it compulsory?
COVID-19 vaccination is not compulsory in Nigeria, but every one that is eligible is urged to go for the jab.
Can I reserve vaccine doses?
No. Vaccine doses are not reserved for people who do not show up when it’s their turn to be vaccinated. The vaccines will go to whoever is next in line.
Will the vaccination leave a scar?
No it will not because the vaccination is an intramuscular injection. There have been no reports of scarring. Most intramuscular injections will not leave a scar because the inflammation occurs in the muscle.
How safe are the Covid-19 vaccines?
Quite safe. Multiple steps are being taken to ensure any Covid-19 vaccine approved for use is safe. There are stringent tests on laboratory animals before the vaccine is tested on humans. Even when clinical trials begin, there are numerous phases involved.
After I am vaccinated, do still need to wear masks?
A vaccine is not 100 percent effective as there could still be a few people getting Covid-19 infection even after getting vaccinated. The advantage of vaccination is that it will protect you from developing serious illness even if you get infected with the virus. But you should continue to wear your face mask and observe safe distancing measures.
Can I choose which Covid-19 vaccine to take?
No. For now, only the AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved and certified for use in Nigeria by NAFDAC. When you have been vaccinated, you will receive a physical vaccination card and will be able to check your vaccination record online.
When will it be my turn to get vaccinated?
Prior registration for vaccination is necessary. You should register on the NPHCDA website. The priority groups for vaccination are based on a risk assessment. Healthcare, front-line and other essential personnel are vaccinated first to preserve healthcare and other essential systems.
How long will the immunity from vaccination last?
It is not yet clear how long immunity will last after you are vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Nigeria’s community cases are low, why should I be vaccinated?
Trying to run an effective vaccination programme while keeping Covid-19 infections down is a very challenging task, Hence, it makes more sense to start vaccinating now while the country can still afford to do so. The vaccine will take time, around five weeks or more, to generate sufficient immunity.
Are there conditions for which I should not be vaccinated?
As with all established vaccines and medications, there is a small risk of very rare but serious adverse events that may occur post-vaccination, including allergic reactions.
You will be watched for a few minutes after the jab so that any severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis can be detected and treated promptly.
If you have a history of severe allergic reactions you should not take the Covid-19 vaccine yet.
If you are pregnant, immunocompromised, or under the age of 16 – you should not receive the shots.
Are there side effects?
You may experience side effects after the vaccine. These are usually mild and are much less serious than developing coronavirus or complications associated with it. Any side effects usually go away within a few days.
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The side may include:
*tenderness, swelling, and/or redness at the injection site
*headache or muscle ache
*nausea or vomiting
*fever (temperature above 37.8°C).
Signs of an allergic reaction may include itchy skin rash, shortness of breath, and swelling of the face or tongue. Contact a doctor immediately or go to the nearest hospital if you notice any of these symptoms.
What vaccines are currently available in Nigeria?
Nigeria was allocated 16 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX Facility. There are also arrangements to acquire up to 70 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine through the African Union.
However, the Federal government is in negotiation with other vaccine manufacturers including Russia’s Sputnik V as well as China’s Sinovac.
How many vaccine doses does Nigeria have currently?
Nigeria has obtained 3.92 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine. These are currently being administered to eligible persons. The MTN also donated 300,000 doses to the government.
Is there a target for vaccination?
The target for Nigeria is 40 percent of the population in 2021 and an additional 30 percent in 2022.