Nigeria: Astra Zeneca Vaccine - Nigeria Records Zero Complications Aft
Despite fears and concerns about the administration of Aztra Zeneca vaccine against COVID-19, Nigeria is yet to record any complication after 325, 514 people received the jab since its rollout two weeks ago.
Reports from our correspondents indicate that though response to the vaccination has been slow, none of those who have been vaccinated has complained of any complications.
Some countries had suspended use of Astra Zeneca vaccine as a precaution while investigators looked into cases of blood clots among vaccinated people. The EU's leading states however resumed their roll-out of the Oxford vaccine after Europe's medicines regulator concluded that it was "safe and effective".
As of March 25, data from the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHDA) indicated that 325, 514 people have been vaccinated in the county, as four states were yet to commence vaccination. The states are; Kebbi, Kogi, Taraba and Zamfara.
However, the country has not recorded any adverse side effect in any of those so far vaccinated.
The head of pharmacy department in the National Hospital Abuja, Pharm. Jelili Kilani, told our correspondent that he and his colleagues had received the vaccine.
He, however, said some of his colleagues were not willing to take the vaccine probably due to fatigue but that after some of them took it and their colleagues saw that nothing happened to them, they starting coming out to receive it.
Jelili, who is also the chairman, FCT chapter of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), said he had not experienced any side effect since he received the vaccine.
He said some of his colleagues had mild reactions which according to him were normal, noting that even polio and other vaccines for children cause mild reactions.
"What we are doing now is part of the surveillance. You know when a new drug comes, after the phase three trial, the phase four trial is done when the drug is in large circulation so that any side effect will be detected.
"This should have been done before actually releasing the drug but I think it is because of the way COVID-19 is, that is why," he said.
President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Pharm. Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, told our correspondent that it was possible that Nigerians would not experience what was happening in other countries due to genetic differences.
According to him, the cases reported in those countries may not actually have resulted from the vaccine but because; "When you start a new medicine, you undergo what is called pharmacovigilance, and it is required that you report everything that happens. It may not be related to the drug but as long as it happens at the time you are taking the drug, you report," he said.
Lagos State commissioner for health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said he had taken the vaccine but didn't react to it until the next day before he started feeling pains, shivering and headache.
"I took a pain killer, exercised and went to sleep and when I woke up on Sunday, I was okay. Everybody is different, we expect that some people won't feel anything while others may have body pain, shivering, headache. Those are all the expected side effects of the vaccine.
"The serious side effects are comma, severe complications and this can happen with any vaccination, not just confined to COVID-19 vaccine. We have the medication to tackle such cases at the vaccination centres in Lagos. Once you are vaccinated, you can reach back to us through a number and we will sort you out. I urge Lagosians to get vaccinated at the accredited centres.
"In the next few days, we will get a good idea of how many people are willing to receive the vaccine and those that are not willing.
"We will try to understand the cause of their hesitance and address that with public awareness and the projection of evidence based data to prove that the vaccine is safe as far as the scientific world is concerned," he said.
On why Nigeria didn't carry out clinical trials before the exercise, Abayomi said; "If we were to carry out clinical trials in Nigeria or in Lagos, we would significantly delay our opportunity to roll out the vaccine and that would make us vulnerable to other variants.
"So, like most countries that are adopting clinical trial results of the vaccine and proceeding with vaccination roll out, we too decided to adopt it.
"Based on the clinical and medical evidence we had from the clinical trials, it is imperative that we roll out the vaccine now before the global dynamic of the COVID-19 pandemic changes, meaning more variants might start to circulate that are more aggressive, more contagious, and we certainly don't want to experience that in Lagos or in Nigeria," he said.
Speaking on how long the effect of the vaccine last, Abayomi said; "Based on the evidence we have from the phase three clinical trial, the immunity lasts from the point which it is administered to several months. It is only with time that we can determine through laboratory tests and other forms of analysis how long one can retain protective immunity as a result of the vaccine received and this can come in many forms.
"First of all, we can do a laboratory analysis to determine what type of anti-bodies the individual produces and how effective they would be, and also if that person had taken the vaccination, and yet developed COVID-19, we will find out what type of disease he developed as a result of the impact of the vaccine. If some people are still contracting the virus, but are not developing severe diseases, that is an indication to us that although they did contract the virus, the vaccine protected them from severe diseases and if they are able to be protected from severe diseases, their chances of dying are significantly reduced."
He assured residents of Lagos that the vaccine is safe, adding that collective results from the clinical trials suggested that all ethnic groups across the world demonstrate the appropriate response to the vaccine and acquire suitable levels of immunity. He said the WHO classified suitable levels of immunity as about 50 percent, so any vaccine that generates about 50 percent response is considered useful and safe.
A worker at the Lagos State Ministry of Health told LEADERSHIP Sunday; "There is pharmacovigilance in place and we have a team monitoring and documenting reactions. All this would be captured in our public awareness campaigns which will soon start."
In Niger State, most of those who took the vaccine complained of slight headache and dizziness which sent fears to many people and reduced the willingness to take the vaccine in the state.
Chairman of the Niger State Taskforce on Covid-19 and secretary to the state government (SSG), Alhaji Ahmed Matane, said it was normal with vaccination because it was a new antigen being injected into the body.
On how they intend to roll out the vaccine, he said the state government had decided to get feedbacks from those on the frontline who took the vaccine before coming out with a template to massively roll out.
He said anyone willing to take the vaccine, especially those going on foreign journey could go to the epidemiological centre in Minna for the vaccine.
The SSG said as government rolls out the vaccine, sensitisation would be done to educate the people against doubting its efficacy.
In Jigawa State, the permanent secretary in the state Ministry of Health, Dr Salisu Muazu, told our correspondent that as of March 25, 20,800 people were vaccinated across the state.
According to him, the first round of the vaccination exercise focused on executives, traditional rulers, front line health workers both public and private, security operatives and other key stakeholders.
He noted that the state was using the existing vaccine/immunization structure for conducting the exercise.
In Plateau, the commissioner for health, Dr. Nenkor Lar, expressed satisfaction with the turnout of people to receive the vaccine.
Our correspondent who monitored the exercise reports that the vaccine is being administered at the Plateau Specialist Hospital, Bingham University Teaching Hospital, Jos University Teaching Hospital, DSS, Army Barracks and the police headquarters in Jos.
Many residents of Taraba State are not willing to take the vaccine, according to findings by our correspondent. Conspiracy theories, mistrust and patchy communication have contributed to scepticism about the vaccine in the state.
Medical experts said they were not moved by the scepticism as they had experienced such during the polio vaccination.
Most of the vaccinations centres opened on Wednesday were deserted, even as the governor reiterated that the vaccine was safe before he took the jab on Monday. Some residents suggested that the vaccine be taken back to the NCDC as no one was willing to take it.
The National Primary Health Care Management Agency (NPHCMA) started the vaccination in Rivers State on March 19, 2021.
The state coordinator of NPHCMA, Dr. Emma Ukpong, said there were five primary health centres in Port Harcourt metropolis serving as vaccination posts.
Ukpong said: "For the first phase of the campaign, the targeted people are health workers, I mean those that work in hospitals and other people who work on the frontline.
"We also have those that work in the Army, Navy and Air Force as well as school teachers, bankers and those that work in petrol stations."