Director of Disease Control and Immunisation at the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr.
Bassey Bassey Okposen, says the country needs to achieve herd immunity to protect the citizens against new variants of COVID-19.
He stated this on Tuesday while speaking on Your View – a TV programme on TVC.
According to him, the nation should push to vaccinate 70 per cent of the citizens to prevent the mutation of COVID-19 strain in the country as well as better protect Nigerians against new variants.
Okposen, a public health physician and an immunisation expert said if the nation achieved herd immunity through immunisation, Nigerians will be better protected against future variants.
According to the vaccine expert, Nigerians should get vaccinated against COVID-19 because many more waves of the viral pandemic with different variants of the virus could still come.
He said, “We need as a nation to achieve herd immunity.
This is to ensure that if we are exposed to any variants, we would be protected.
We know that the severity of infection in those vaccinated will be less.
“We don’t what will come tomorrow.
This is because pandemics like COVID-19 come in waves with different severity.
We don’t know the variant that will come that could be dangerous for Nigerians.
That is why I am pleading with Nigerians and urging them not to take this thing for a joke.
“We can recall what happened when the Delta variant hit India.
It was terrible for India.
People were collapsing and dying on the street.
Yes, Omicron has come and it seems less severe but yet we can see how some countries reacted to it by imposing lockdown and not allowing people to go out.
So we need to take this viral infection seriously.
“Once we achieve herd immunity as a nation, whatever strain of the virus that comes would be easier to deal with.
This is because the severity of the disease will be less and vaccination will also reduce mutations of the virus in the country”.
Okposen also flayed the argument against COVID-19 boosters stressing that vaccination against viral infections usually comes in more doses.
“If we go back to the history of the poliovirus then you will know that there is nothing different to what is happening to COVID-19 vaccination.
“The polio vaccine that we give to children is an example.
We give them the first dose at six weeks and then give them a second dose at 10 weeks.
We then give them another one at 14 weeks and then supplemental ones follow.
It is because it is a virus.
“For a child to be fully vaccinated against polio, it now takes four oral polio vaccines and one injection.
That is five doses.
So, we are just starting with COVID-19 and there is nothing to worry about.
“Also when we give children measles vaccine, it is the same.
Once you give 100 children measles vaccine, 85 per cent of them develop 100 per cent immunity at first administration.
“When you give them the second dose of the vaccine, 95 per cent develop immunity and when they get the opportunity of the third dose, 98 per cent of them develop immunity.
So, it is all about boosting the level of immunity.
“Measles vaccination before was just one dose but now, it is two doses and then a booster at five years.
“From research, the COVID-19 vaccine first dose gives 60 to 65 per cent protection, the second dose takes the protection to 80 to 85 per cent and the booster dose takes the immunity level higher.
So, it is necessary,” he said.
The NPHCDA immunisation expert also noted that data available so far in Nigeria has confirmed that most of those who have died from COVID-19 are those that were not vaccinated.
“91 per cent of the mortalities are those not vaccinated.
The remaining are people that have taken one dose are yet to complete their dose.
5 per cent of those that died are people that have taken two doses of the vaccine.
So the booster dose provides better protection,” he said.
COVID-19: NPHCDA advocates herd immunity against new variants