Nigeria will begin administering the second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on eligible Nigerians who received the first shots.

Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), made this known during the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) briefing in Abuja.

Shuaib advised health workers, frontline workers aged 18 years and above and persons aged 50 years and above to visit any designated vaccination site to receive the vaccine free of charge.

“I want to remind you that the eligibility period between the first and second doses of the vaccine has been expanded from 12 weeks to between six to 12 weeks. 

”This is in line with the scientific recommendation provided by the World Health Organisation’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE on immunization).

”The PSC has approved the second dose of the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccination in all states of the federation and the FCT.

“We have redeployed Senior Supervisors to the states and have continued to monitor activities with daily evening review meetings to determine the status of the COVID-19 vaccine implementation in all states and the FCT.

“These meetings, allows us to receive reports from the sub-national level on how the campaigns are proceeding, what challenges they face, and how we can proactively anticipate and resolve any impending challenges.

”The meetings also provide an avenue to troubleshoot and resolve any operational hurdles as they emerge, before they become problematic,” he explained.

He said that as was recorded in the poliovirus eradication fight, the agency is strengthening the COVID-19 vaccination campaign at the community level with Town Hall meetings across the country.

”Already we held the North-Central Zonal Town Hall Meeting two weeks ago in Lafia, the capital of Nasarawa state.

”In weeks ahead, the agency hopes to continue the dialogue in other geo-political zones of the country.

“The town hall meetings afford the communities the opportunity to directly participate in dialogue with the government as we work to protect the people against the pandemic.

“We know that many people are very concerned about the health threats posed by COVID-19, but also about the economic threats.

”The meetings allow for views and concerns to be heard as we work together to move beyond COVID-19 as a nation,” he said.

The NPHCDA boss urged Nigerians to continue to cooperate with vaccinators who were providing an incredibly important service to the nation amid this global crisis.

He added that the government would ensure that only safe and efficacious vaccines were supplied for all phases of the vaccination campaign in the country.

“We would like to state our appreciation to the Nigerian citizens for the cooperation they are providing to our vaccination teams across the country.

”We are continuing to optimise our registration and immunization data system, to maximize the efficiency of this system.

 “The need to protect ourselves and put COVID-19 behind us, the way we have done to polio so that we can return to our normal living, truly is a national effort,” he stated.