Nigerian Government promises unfettered access to COVID-19 vaccines

Gloria Essien, Abuja

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The Nigerian government has promised to ensure unfettered access to COVID-19 vaccines across the country.

The Secretary to The Government of The Federation and Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19, Boss Mustapha, gave the assurance at the National Flag-off of Phase 2 COVID-19 Vaccination, in Abuja.

” I want to assure you that the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that Nigerians have unfettered 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, Mr. Mustapha said.

He said that the Presidential Steering Committee will continue to monitor with concern the increasing trend of COVID-19 cases in several countries with a special focus on those with high incidence rates and widespread prevalence of variants of concern.

He noted that individuals have the responsibility to safeguard the health of their people by ensuring that all eligible persons in their homes and communities get vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccines while the government will continue to ensure the sustained availability of the vaccines

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The onus is on eligible citizens to demand for, make the extra effort to access the vaccines and get vaccinated. These vaccines are safe and efficacious and it is our only hope out of this pandemic for now.

While Government deeply empathizes with families who have lost loved ones to this virus and assures them that we will continue to do everything possible to minimize the surge of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria, citizens are strongly advised to minimize all non-essential international travels by land, air, or sea, at this time, specifically to countries that are showing rising number of cases and deaths from COVID-19, the SGF said.

Travel Restrictions
He also announced that Nigeria has placed restrictions on travellers from Brazil, India, South Africa and Turkey into Nigeria in line with the country’s travel guidelines.

“Individuals, transporters, and airlines who flout the guidelines shall be sanctioned. State Governments are required to ensure all returning travellers from all countries adhere to the mandatory seven-day self-isolation period and the repeat of COVID-19 PCR test on the seventh day after arrival. Violators will also be sanctioned accordingly, he noted.

He, therefore, urged all stakeholders to mobilize their community members, aged 18 years and above, especially the elderly to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to stop the transmission of the virus as vaccination is pivotal to our efforts at containing the spread of COVID-19.

The Nigerian minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, while speaking at the Flag off, said Nigeria has the potential to be the best in Africa.

He commended stakeholders and partners for believing in Nigeria and  urged Nigerians to come out en masse and embrace the vaccine.

WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, congratulated the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC), FMOH and NPHCDA for successfully vaccinating over 2,5 million and 1,4 million persons with the first dose and second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine respectively in the Phase1 rollout of COVID-19 vaccination.

” More encouraging is the fact that the country utilized 98.9% (3,980,600 doses) of the first tranche of COVID-19 vaccines. Partners are very happy with the Federal Government’s huge investment in the procurement and the installation of Ultra Cold Chain equipment at the national strategic store and the state cold stores, he said.

Molumbo noted that the country will be able to overcome all challenges for a successful Phase 2 vaccination rollout.

He reiterated that vaccines are a critical tool in the battle against COVID-19.

“These vaccines are safe and effective and will be the game-changer: but for the foreseeable future, we must continue wearing masks, physically distance and avoid crowds,” Molumbo said.

More Vaccines
On his part, the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib said that the country will be receiving additional 698,880 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine soon.

He said that the vaccines donated by the UK government will be targeted at those due for the 2nd dose of the vaccines.

“In the next couple of weeks, we will be expecting up to 3.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines to complement what we already have.

“This will also ensure that we cover not only those who will be taking their 2nd dose but also for those who will want to take their first dose of this vaccine,” he said.

Similarly, the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) Mojisola Adeyeye, said the agency has been preparing for the vaccination for about a year now.

“So you can ask yourself, why should I take the vaccine because NAFDAC worked around the clock to ensure that the health of Nigerians is premium in whatever we do.

“NAFDAC is also the only agency in the world that is using track and trace to monitor where the vaccine goes,” she said.

The Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan, used the occasion to appeal to striking Doctors to return to work, in the interest of Nigerians.

The Director-General of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said that “As we celebrate the receipt of the vaccines, let’s celebrate the health care workers who would administer the vaccines across the country”.

President and Chairman of the Board of African Export-Import Bank Prof. Benedict Oramah, (AFREXIMBANK), while handing over the vaccines to the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC), said that the vaccine acquisition by AVAT was a unique milestone for the African continent.

According to Oramah, it marks the first time that the AU Member States have collectively purchased vaccines to safeguard the health of the African population.

He added that Afreximbank was pleased to have contributed in the historic procurement of vaccines by AVAT.

“Afreximbank is delighted to be a part of this successful breakthrough in Africa. This was also possible through our partners – Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), AVATT, Africa Centre for Disease Control & Prevention, and the AU for their invaluable contribution to achieving this milestone,” he noted.

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is to be administered to the elderly and people in hard-to-reach areas.

Nnenna.O

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