By Hassan Zaggi
The National Primary Health Development Agency (NPHCDA) has disclosed that it is fully prepared to receive and deliver effectively the first batch of 4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.
This is contained in a statement jointly signed by the NPHCDA, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Abuja, Sunday.
The statement, however, noted that Nigeria has concluded plans to vaccinate at least 70% of eligible Nigerians aged 18 years and above in four phases within two years.
The delivery of the vaccine on Tuesday will mark the first arrival of COVID-19 vaccine in the country and make Nigeria the next West African country to benefit from the COVAX Facility after Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire.
According to the statement, the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine is part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to Nigeria in batches over the next months by the COVAX Facility, as part of an unprecedented global effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
The COVAX Facility is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), with UNICEF as a key implementing partner.
Speaking, the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said: “The arrival of this vaccine is the result of the commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, the support of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the guidance of the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.”
Commenting on the preparedness of Nigeria to receive the vaccine and deliver it accordingly, Shuaib said: “We are fully prepared to receive and deliver the vaccine to eligible Nigerians as we have commenced the training of health workers and ensured that cold chain facilities are ready at all levels.
“We have a robust cold chain system that can store all types of COVID-19 vaccine in accordance with the required temperature.
“We are therefore confident that we will have a very effective roll-out of the vaccine, starting with our critical healthcare workers, who are in the frontline in providing the care we all need.”
On his part, the UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, noted that: “The COVAX Facility, has worked exceptionally hard to ensure that Nigeria gets the vaccine as soon as possible so it can start its vaccination programme to the largest population in Africa.”
Meanwhile, the WHO, has charged the Federal government to device ingenious steps to contain the further spread of the corona virus in the country.
While commenting on the expected arrival of the vaccine on Tuesday, the WHO Representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, said: “Vaccines are a critical tool in the battle against COVID-19. In the meantime, Nigerians must continue to take steps to contain the virus, as the vaccination programme will take at least a year before it is fully effective.”