Herd immunity involves the indirect protection from an infectious disease which happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through a previous infection.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says herd immunity against COVID-19 should be achieved by protecting people through vaccination, not by exposing them to the pathogen that causes the disease.
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According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) the general concept of herd immunity implies that transmission of an infectious agent can be blunted, except for sporadic outbreaks, because a certain proportion of the population is already protected through vaccination or prior infection
It is for these reasons that the federal government since its rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination exercise in the country, has been targeting to achieve herd immunity.
However, data obtained from COVID-19 vaccination so far showed that the country was still far away from achieving herd immunity or its target of vaccinating 70 per cent of the population by September this year.
As at June 26th, a total 22,343,792 persons have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, representing 20 per cent of the eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination, while 12,002,124 of the total eligible persons targeted for COVID-19 vaccination, were partially vaccinated representing 10.7 per cent.
Speaking last week, during the Federal Ministry of Health’s bi-weekly COVID-19 update in Abuja, the Director-General of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, said, “it is clear that the journey is still far to the destination, and more aggressive actions need to be taken to fast-track the process to achieve herd immunity against COVID 19 infection in Nigeria.”
Represented by the Director of Planning Research and Statistics of the agency, Dr Abdullahi Garba Bulama, he said more aggressive actions need to be taken to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 infection in the country.
He said a strategy deployed by government was, inclusion of community pharmacists in COVID-19 vaccination.
He said a major strategy was the “expansion of the vaccination sites to include all the publicly owned PHC, secondary and tertiary health facilities, public, private corporate bodies and selected private health facilities.
“We have also created mass vaccination sites in stadiums, shopping malls, markets, religious houses, motor packs and in carefully selected/trained pharmaceutical stores.”
NPHCDA enjoined Nigerians to go for vaccination to protect themselves and the country against the disease.
It said “the COVID-19 vaccine does not contain any controversial substance(s).
“All vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, are solely medical and not nutritional, and do not alter your spiritual fast.
“COVID-19 vaccine does not make you sick. Mild side effects may or may not occur as in any other vaccinations as every individual reacts to vaccines differently. Mild side effects such as fatigue, headache, chills, slight fever and pain or numbness at the site of vaccination may occur and disappear within a day or two.”
It however said in case you observe any reactions after vaccination, contact the Disease Surveillance & Notification Officer (DSNO), whose phone number is on your vaccination card.
UNICEF says COVID-19 vaccines have been safely used to vaccinate billions of people.
It said the COVID-19 vaccines were developed as rapidly as possible, but they all must go through rigorous testing in clinical trials to prove that they meet internationally agreed benchmarks for safety and effectiveness.
“Only if they meet these standards can a vaccine receive validation from WHO and national regulatory agencies,” it said.