As the target date given by the federal government for states to end the first phase of Covid-19 vaccination approaches, the turnout for the exercise in many states has remained low, THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.
THISDAY gathered that the states are expected to end the administration of the first dose of the vaccine on April 16 so that those who received the first jab will begin to receive the second dose of the vaccine thereafter.
Statistics obtained from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) showed that some states such as Lagos, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Katsina, Yobe, Kwara, Niger, Adamawa, Gombe, Jigawa, and Kaduna have vaccinated between 60 per cent and 111 per cent of the targeted population under the first phase.
The statistics, however, showed that the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as well as states such as Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Enugu, Rivers, Sokoto, Kogi and Taraba were still below 50 per cent of the target.
According to the figures, Abia has attained only 14. 9 per cent; Akwa Ibom, 28 per cent; Anambra, 22.8 per cent; Ebonyi, 31 per cent; Enugu, 30.1 per cent; Rivers, 30.6 per cent; Sokoto, 33 per cent; Taraba, 19.5 per cent, while the FCT has attained 33.3 per cent,
However, the FCT has disputed the figures, disclosing that the federal government’s assessment was based on the 228,400 doses given to it, which it claimed was in excess of the 120,000 doses it actually required.
Reacting to the vaccine hesitancy in the state, the Abia State government said it had not yet fixed a specific date for the commencement of the public vaccination following the extension of vaccination to more categories of frontline workers.
However, the Anambra State government’s claim of having vaccinated a total of 22,861 persons also contradicted the federal government’s assessment, which showed that the state vaccinated only 9,000 persons or 22.8 per cent of the target.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Vincent Okpala, told THISDAY at the weekend that a total of 22,861 persons had received the COVID-19 vaccine in the state.
However, the commissioner declined to comment when confronted with the federal government’s statistics on the state’s performance.
The state had received 78,810 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government.
In line with the federal government’s guidelines, the state Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, while unveiling the vaccine in the state had stated that half of the vaccines would be administered to residents in the first round, while half would be kept for the second dose, to ensure that those who received the first would get the second dose.
It is expected that 35,945 persons will receive the vaccine in the state.
Also, the Akwa Ibom State government said there was no cause for alarm over the percentage of the target recorded so far in the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination in the state.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Ini Ememobong, told THISDAY that “there is protocol in taking the vaccine in Akwa Ibom.”
According to him, the vaccination has not entered stage three meant for everybody, as the vaccination, for now, is for frontline health workers and stakeholders.
“There is protocol in taking the vaccination in Akwa Ibom State. The vaccination has not entered stage three for everybody. Vaccination, for now, is for frontline health workers and the stakeholders to build confidence for the general public.
“All the strategic stakeholders have taken. Frontline health workers are still taking. It is a process. It is in a progressing stage. There is no cause for alarm,” Ememobong stated.
In Enugu State, the Executive Secretary, Enugu State Primary HealthCare Development Agency, Dr. George Ugwu, said at least 10,000 residents had been vaccinated.
This figure, which tallies with NPHCDA’s assessment, represents about 30.1 per cent of the targeted population.
According to Ugwu, there has been a massive increase in the number of residents willing to take the vaccine as against when it was first received.
He said members of the public were disinterested at first because of the controversy over the safety of the vaccine, especially on the side effects.
“When they saw that we had vaccinated many public figures in the state, including the governor, the speaker of the House of Assembly, the chief judge and other top government functionaries, they developed an interest and wanted to take too,” he said.
The Acting Executive Secretary, FCT Primary Healthcare Development, Dr. Iwot Ndayo, told THISDAY that the FCT had attained the 70 per cent COVID- 19 vaccination, as against the NPHCDA’s 33.3 per cent assessment.
He said the perceived low coverage in the territory was because people were judging their performance based on the 228,000 doses that were given to them as well as the number of people on the ground that were supposed to be vaccinated.
He added that the FCT had exceeded the 35 per cent target set by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for each state of the federation in the first phase of the administration of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.
He said the FCT received from the NPHCDA about 228,400 doses, which was far above the 120,000 doses, the FCT required.
He said the number of people targeted for vaccination was 55,000 out of which 42,000 had been vaccinated and more projected to be inoculated until April 16, when the first phase of the exercise will end.
“We are at 70 per cent coverage now. What we have captured now is above the 53,000 marks as the target for the FCT. The result we are having is the calculation based on the doses given to us that I said was too much as we should have been given 150,000 doses. But it is helping us to push further. We are including the federal secretariat, as well as the private hospitals where we have listed 938 private hospitals and have attended to over 400 for now,” Ndayo said.
He stated that the FCT Primary Health Care embarked on an aggressive vaccination in all federal ministries at the federal secretariat and agencies in the FCT, following a letter by the Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, asking civil servants to come out for vaccination.
The exercise targeted senior civil servants from the age of 50 and above and in the categories of assistant directors, deputy directors and people with illnesses.
Ndayo said the vaccination had also captured journalists in addition to the officers in the military, the immigration and the correctional centres while the men of the air force were vaccinated on March 16.
He added that a team was also deployed in the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja to capture all arriving passengers.
“We are trying our best and let us see what will happen on Friday, April 16, if we will be able to attain 100 per cent vaccination target,” Ndayo said.
Also reacting to the alleged low turnout, the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Abia State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Chinagozi Adindu, told THISDAY that the state government had not commenced public vaccination.
He added that vaccination of frontline workers was extended to April 10, 2021, to accommodate strategic leaders, who, like health workers, were constantly exposed to the public due to the nature of their jobs.
The ABPHDA boss identified the strategic leaders to include teachers, students, filling station attendants, and law enforcement agents, among others.
He said the health workers had already received their jabs, while other categories of frontline workers needed to be vaccinated before the public rollout of the vaccine.
Adindu stated that the state was working with 90 teams for the COVID-19 vaccination, adding that the number would be increased to 500 before the public rollout.
However, he said the state would have received a second batch of AstraZeneca vaccine before the commencement of public vaccination.
Meanwhile, the Kano State government has commenced a massive campaign to convince the residents of the state to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
The state has vaccinated 50,931 persons, representing 48.6 per cent of the targeted population.
The state Commissioner for Health Dr. Aminu Tsanyawa, told THISDAY that the measures put in place to ensure public acceptance of the vaccine is to engage Islamic, traditional and community leaders for them to educate the people about the importance of the vaccine.
He said the state government also designated 509 centres across the state for the vaccination.
The state Commissioner for information, Malam Muhammad Garba, also said the state government was committed to ensuring wider publicity on the importance of the vaccination.
Garba said all the state executives, council members, traditional rulers and Islamic scholars had been vaccinated.