By Sola Ogundipe
As of Saturday the 16th of October 2021, there were more than 231 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 4.7 million COVID-19–related deaths across the world, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource centre.
In Nigeria, the number of confirmed cases was 208,797 and 2,769 deaths, according to information on the microsite of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC.
With 77,288 cases and 664 deaths, Lagos continues to be the epicentre of the epidemic in Nigeria followed by the Federal Capital Territory, FCT with 22,839 cases and 208 deaths, and Rivers State with 12,431 cases and 154 deaths.
In the past week, the Federal government announced that it was making COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for civil servants as from December 1st. While the number of new Covid cases is decreasing in some states, it is in teasing in others.
According to UNICEF, vaccines for COVID-19 are critical tools for helping bring the pandemic under control when combined with effective testing and existing prevention measures.
Experts agree that vaccination is crucial to ending the pandemic. Towards this end, the Federal government says it has commenced efforts to expand access to vaccination by establishing mass vaccination sites in states across the Federation. The effort is expected to include private health care providers.
Nigeria needs to vaccinate a total of 80 million eligible persons or 40 percent of the 200 million population by the end of 2021. The country also has to vaccinate 140 million persons or 70 percent of the population by the end of 2022 in order to achieve herd immunity.
Currently, Nigeria is not on track to attain herd immunity because only around 5.24 million eligible populations in the country have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine while 2.54 million have been fully vaccinated. The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA says the figures represent 4.7 percent and 2.3 percent of the target population respectively. To be on track for herd immunity, must vaccinate over 70 million people between now and 31st December.
Herd immunity is important because it helps protect the members of a community who may be unable to be vaccinated or who may not produce a strong immune response after vaccination, due to one of the medical conditions known as comorbidities, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, etc.
According to UNICEF, when enough people in a population are immune, the virus can no longer cause outbreaks, and that community is protected via herd immunity , or community immunity.
Experts argue that it is critical everyone is vaccinated as soon as they are eligible even as it is also urgent that everyone should have access to COVID-19 vaccines to protect themselves and their communities.
The experts have said that COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to train our immune system to recognise and repel the novel coronavirus, by enabling the creation of antigens and other protective defenses.
Vaccines are one of the safest and most effective ways to reduce the risk of suffering from the covid infection that can cause hospital infection or worse.
When vaccinated persons are exposed to the virus, their immune system will recognise the viral antigens and spring into action to keep them healthy.
All Covid-19 vaccines work by teaching the immune system to recognise the pathogen that causes the novel coronavirus. Then, whenever there is exposure to the virus, the immune system will be ready to leap into action, fight off the virus, and keep the body healthy.
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine helps protects the person who is vaccinated and helps protect the whole community. The more people who are vaccinated, the lower the risk of contracting the disease.
As COVID-19 vaccination rates are increasing, cases, hospitalisations, and deaths due to COVID-19 are decreasing dramatically in areas that have achieved high vaccination rates.
Several Covid-19 vaccines have been rolled out across multiple platforms in Nigeria after they have been certified safe and effective to help stop the devastating spread of COVID-19 infection.
Currently, seven COVID-19 vaccines that have received full approval by the World Health Organisation, WHO, and certified for use in Nigeria by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC.
These are the Mordena and Pfizer BioNTech mRNA vaccines, Oxford – AstraZeneca, Covishield Oxford/AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik V and Sinopharm vaccines.
It is established that COVID-19 vaccines are saving lives, thus ensuring that more vaccine doses are available has the potential to save more people.