The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Wednesday maintained that vaccinations against COVID-19 should not be stopped in Nigeria despite fears over the side effects of the jabs.
Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General of the agency who said this, believes that with the number of lives lost to the pandemic, halting the vaccination campaign in the country is not advisable.
“People are dying of COVID-19,” the NAFDAC boss said during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily. “The vaccines should not be stopped unless it is a statistically massive occurrence[side effects].”
Although many countries have halted the use of the AstraneZeneca vaccines over fears about possible side effects like blood clotting, Professor Adeyeye believes that the benefits of taking the jabs far outweigh such fear.
“It is knowing that these are serious but the benefits outweigh the risk,” she insisted, admitting, however, that there is a need for more engagement to know people’s reactions to drugs.
She said the AstraZeneca vaccine is not the first to be used under emergency authorization, explaining that other COVID-19 vaccines have been reported to have had adverse effects on people who took the shots.
According to her, over five hundred persons have been vaccinated against the virus at the National Hospital in Abuja. But she said only about six persons had side effects like fever, chills, and pain.
“But we have not reported adverse events of serious nature or special interest,” she added, conceding, however, that it “may” happen later.
Nigeria had on March 2nd received its first doses of the AstraZeneca jab, kickstarting the vaccination campaign which the government says is targeted at reaching 70 percent of the country’s population.
Since the country flagged off the vaccination drive on March 5th at the National Hospital in Abuja, many frontline health workers and government officials including President Muhammadu Buhari had taken the jabs.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had urged countries to continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine after a host of European nations halted its usage.
“We do not want people to panic and we would, for the time being, recommend that countries continue vaccinating with AstraZeneca,” WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told a press briefing.
Despite fears that people may not be willing to take the vaccine, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said Nigerians are eager to take the shots.
“I can tell you that there is a lot of excitement [about the vaccine arrival]. I know some people have their concerns and we are trying but I want to give you an example of the enthusiasm that Nigerians are showing around wanting to take these vaccines,” the Executive Director of the agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said.
“Around midday on Monday when we launched the e-registration platform, in less than 24 hours, we already had up to 2.3m Nigerians who had registered. And that number continues to increase.”