As the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic hits countries in sub-saharan Africa, Nigeria has flagged-off the second phase of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination for its citizens nationwide, following the delivery of 4,080,000 Moderna vaccines donated by the United States of America.
Nigeria also received a first tranche of 176,600 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the over 40 million purchased through the African Export-Import Bank and the African Union (AU) while an additional 698,880 doses of Astrazeneca vaccines, a donation from the United Kingdom was also delivered.
At the ceremony, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha commended stakeholders for the support to the government and urged Nigerians to get vaccinated because nobody is protected until everyone is protected against the virus.
Mustapha who is also the Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, while inaugurating the vaccination exercise at the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja, noted that every adult from 18years and above, especially the elderly, should get vaccinated.
“I want to assure you that the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that Nigerians have accelerated access to COVID-19 vaccines as the country will continue to invest in and access safe and effective vaccines. It is now the responsibility of every citizen to register and get vaccinated so that we can achieve our desired herd immunity of vaccinating at least 70% of our eligible population,” Mustapha said.
In his goodwill message, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director-General, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) noted that healthcare workers are very crucial in the next phase of vaccine administration and making the vaccines available.
“As we celebrate the acquisition of the vaccines today, I like to acknowledge all healthcare workers that have been working hard for the last 18months to deliver vaccines to Nigerians. Everyone should continue to support healthcare workers as they deliver these vaccines. Please be patient with them like you have been from the beginning and it will get to everyone,” Dr Ihekweazu said.
During her address, the Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr. Mojisola Adeyeye assured Nigerians that the agency has done all due diligence before granting an emergency-use approval.
Dr. Mojisola said: “NAFDAC has been working round the clock to ensure that the health of our people is premium. NAFDAC is the only agency in the world that is using track and trace to monitor where each vaccine goes, which is now called Abuja principles.
“When you take your vaccine, you may have a little bit of fever or rash or whatever, we have the Med Safety App. You can download it and self-report the type of side-effect you are having. This is an emergency-use authorization that is given. When we are going to get the full approval, it is the side-effects data that is going to guide us.”
The Country Director, United States Centre for Disease Control (CD), Dr. Adetinuke (Mary) Boyd was full commendations for the stakeholders for the timely delivery of vaccines to Nigeria. Commending the Federal Government, Boyd who represented the Government of the United States at the event, said: “I want to congratulate Nigeria’s leadership in being ranked Number four in the overall COVID-19 response. We want to also commend Nigeria for the arrival of 170,000 doses of the J&J vaccines and many more will come.
“I want to reiterate that the United States stands ready to leverage all resources including those already in-country to support the rollout of those vaccines. That is how important it is to the US government. I want to conclude with a message for all who are listening. COVID-19 does not respect anyone, please wear a mask, observe regular handwashing and avoid crowds to minimize the spread of the strain.”
On his part, the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib noted that the flag-off of the second phase of the vaccines is necessitated by the need to create awareness on what would be done differently in the administration of the vaccines.
He also confirmed that the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccineswould be reserved for Nigerians who live in the hard-to-reach communities and security compromised regions as they may not have the opportunity to return to health care centres for a second dose of the vaccines.
According to him, “Although, Nigeria is rated as one of the best performing nations in the vaccination response, we are not satisfied because we know we can be the best. Because the Johnson and Johnson is a one-dose effective vaccine, the 177,600 doses will be focused on those who live in hard-to-reach areas. That is to say, those who live in riverine areas, desert areas, mountainous areas and security compromised areas. This is because they are the people who may find it difficult to leave their homes to the health facility for the second vaccination.”
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari, the United State Government, Afreximbank, frontline health workers and other stakeholders for working tirelessly to ensure that the African Countries are not shortchanged in access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines.
Recall that the Federal Government kicked-off the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination on March 5, 2021, having received approximately four million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines donated by COVAX. The country successfully vaccinated 2,534,205 people for the first dose and 1,404,205 have received their second dose of the vaccine.
Stakeholders at the event renewed the country’s commitment to vaccinate about 40 per cent of the over 200 million population before the end of 2021, and 70 per cent by the end of 2022.