I am delighted to inform you that the first batch of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which is about 3,924,000 doses, have arrived Nigeria today Tuesday 2nd March 2021 at 11:10am.
I once again assure Nigerians that all necessary safety and quality control measures have been put in place for the arrival, storage and successful administration of the vaccine in the country. There is going to be a small ceremony chaired by the Chairman of the PTF on COVID-19 to receive the vaccine at the VIP Protocol section, General Aviation Terminal of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
At the end of the ceremonies to mark the arrival of the vaccines. A few vials of the vaccines would be handed over to the NAFDAC team which they will analyze over a period of two days (Wednesday March 3rd and Thursday March 4th)
Further to the clearance by NAFDAC, the PTF, FMOH, NPHCDA and strategic leaders will be at treatment center of the National Hospital on Friday March 5th 2021, where the first vaccination site will be set up to commence the vaccination of the frontline health workers and support staff. These Staff would also be electronically registered in the Covid-19 vaccine database and would receive their COVID-19 vaccination card which has a QR code that can be verified worldwide.
On Monday March 8th 2021, more vaccination sites would have been set up at designated locations such as National Assembly clinic, State House clinic and Federal medical centre, Jabi where strategic leaders such as the SGF, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Attorney General of the Federation, Inspector General of Police, the Ministers and Ministers of States, Senators, House of Representatives, traditional leaders and religious leaders would be vaccinated.
After this launch and initial roll-out phase, Vaccine distribution to the States for the phase 1 vaccination process will begin. This phase is the vaccination of all frontline health workers, their supporting staff and strategic leaders. Deployment of vaccines to the States would be based on the assessment of their level of preparedness. Some of the parameters that would be used for the assessment include adequate maintenance of their cold chain storage facilities, adequate preparation for logistic transportation to the ward/ health facility, adequate security in place during transportation and at vaccination sites, completion of training of health workers, efficient social mobilization activities in place, adherence to protocol for vaccine deployment.
Working with CACOVID, plans are on ground for a cargo plane provided by them to transport the vaccines to the States by air. States without a functional airport will have their vaccines transported by road using vans with fitted Cold Cabins, from the nearest airport. The vaccines will be stored at the State Cold Stores, from where they will be transported by road to LGA Cold Stores
Once activities have commenced in the States, there would be strict monitoring by PTF, FMOH, NPHCDA and independent bodies such as EFCC, DSS, ICPC, and Civil Society Organizations. States/health facilities/health workers that are identified as defaulting from the standard protocol and guidelines for this phase of vaccination would be sanctioned.
While this is ongoing, the National team would be ready for the arrival of the next batch of vaccines which would be used for the next phase of vaccination. Phase 2 vaccination process involves vaccination of the elderly from 50 years and above. This has been sub grouped into 2, with the vaccination of 60 and above occurring first followed by 50 — 59years. This will occur across all 36 States and the FCT. Those who are eligible for vaccination that have not registered electronically, would be assisted at the designated health facility and would be vaccinated.
The phase 3 vaccination process involves vaccination of those between 18 — 49 years with co-morbidities (such as hypertension, diabetes, lung disease, other heart disease, liver or renal disease, etc). Individuals at ages 50 and above with co-morbidities would already have been Immunized within their age group.
The phase 4 vaccination process would involve vaccination of the rest of the eligible population between the ages 18 — 49 years. It is worthy to note that at each phase of vaccination, the level of preparedness of the States are assessed before vaccines are deployed and accountability measures have been put in place to ensure strict compliance to the vaccination process. Pregnant women will be evaluated by their health providers to weigh the benefit versus risk, before a decision is taken to vaccinate them.
Earlier today, the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire launched our indigenous T.E.A.C.H strategy for COVID-19 vaccination and Electronic Management of Immunization Data system. This is to ensure safe and effective vaccination of prioritized and eligible Nigerians against COVID-19. Following the launching, through a unique link available on NPHCDA website, twitter handle, Facebook and Instagram, we have commenced electronic self-registration of health workers. This will enable us to avoid crowding at vaccination posts as the registered health workers will be scheduled and reminded of their vaccination date via sms and email.
We urge all eligible Nigerians aged 18 years and above to be patient as we will eventually vaccinate them. As the vaccines arrive in batches due to limited supply we will inform Nigerians about who and where to receive the vaccine.
A comprehensive and transparent roll-out plan that involves public vaccination of President Muhammadu Buhari and other important dignitaries and stakeholders has been developed. Again, this is to assure Nigerians on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines that we are bringing into the country.
May I therefore crave your indulgence to continue to support the government in conveying truthful, factual and objective messages to Nigerians in order to dispel rumours around COVID-19 vaccines and government efforts to protect the citizens against the disease. Dr Faisal Shuaib