Federal government has said it would commence the rollout of the 3.92 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from the National Hospital, Abuja, on Friday with some frontline health workers in the facility.
It also said President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) will receive their COVID-19 vaccination on Saturday, a day after its roll out.
This was disclosed to State House Correspondents on Thursday by the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, during the second edition of State House weekly ministerial briefing, held in the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Also scheduled to join him in receiving the vaccines is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Boss Mustapha.
Speaking on the planned roll out of the vaccines, Dr Shuaib said the President and other senior administration officials would publicly take vaccines to increase public confidence in it and overcome vaccine hesitancy.
He said study revealed that only about 50% of Nigerians say they would definitely take the vaccines, making it imperative to demonstrate that the safe and effective.
He said after launch of the vaccines on Friday at the National Hospital, Abuja, priority would be given to frontline workers in the health sector.
He said the second group would be the elderly and the vulnerable before people who have no propensity to get the infection, would be considered.
“After we are able to get our strategic leaders to publicly demonstrate that these vaccines are safe, the plan is to now go to the state level to start the launch at the treatment centres of the states and also get strategic leaders such as governors to publicly take the vaccines.
“By the time all of these happen, we will have finished all of the necessary preparations; we will have created a dashboard that will track very carefully the status of the preparedness of the states.
“We will not be sending vaccines to the states that have not fulfilled all of the criteria that will ensure that if the vaccines get to the states, they are going to be safe.
“For example, we have communicated to the states that they have to wrap up their security around their cold stores because these are very valuable vaccines and we do not want a situation where vaccines are taken to the states and criminal elements take advantage to vandalise these cold stores.
“We are also aware that during the #EndSARS vandalisation, there were some cold stores that actually suffered. I know that the state governors are trying to fix those but we have to verify that those are ready to receive our vaccines.
“We are working with the sub-national level; we are in conversation with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to see how Nigerians can rapidly get their vaccines. It is very critical that we roll out rapidly so that we can cut into any kind of mutation that can lead to the development of resistance against our vaccines,” he said.
Also speaking at the briefing, the Director-General, of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Iheakwazu, has warned that as much as vaccines provide some very important light, the response of – testing, surveillance, protecting health workers, investing in national health security, driving risk communications, etc. has to continue.
He noted that Thursday made it exactly a year and five days since COVID-19 was identified in the country.
According to him, Nigeria has since maintained a robust response to the pandemic and called for the sustenance of critical investment to the health sector to consolidate on the gains achieved in the last one year.
Director General of National Agency for Food Drugs and Administration Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said since the arrival of the vaccine to the country on Tuesday, the agency has been carrying out series of checks on the efficacy of the vaccine.
She said that the agency and the NPHCDA is working closely to ensure smooth roll out of the vaccination on Friday.
She also warned that falsified COVID-19 vaccines are already in the global market.
She said; “that’s why NAFDAC is focusing on track-and-trace, to ensure no infiltration of substandard vaccines in supply chain. Traceability is very important; we can trace the vaccines from airport to the patient.”