Restates placement of restrictions on travellers from Brazil, India, South Africa,Turkey

Expecting more 3.9 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to complement earlier one

By Joseph Erunke – Abuja

The federal government, Monday, flagged off the Phase 2 vaccination of citizens against COVID-19 following the successful delivery of  Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines.

This came as the government received another 698,880 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, donated from the UK Government through the COVAX facility.

The government launched Phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccination, with an initial 4,000,080 doses of Moderna and 176,000 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccines. It is to be administered to people aged 18 years and above in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

Recall that the government 4,000,080 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Government of the United States and the 177,600 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines out of the 29,850,000 doses it purchased through the Africa-Import-Export Bank and the African Union recently.

READ ALSO: COVID vaccine: Nigeria’s failure to produce one

Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Presidential Committee on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha, who officially flagged off the Phase 2 COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria at the Federal Medical Center, Jabi, in Abuja, reiterated Nigeria’s placement of restrictions on travellers from high risked countries, particularly, Brazil, India, South Africa and Turkey.

Noting that the flag off exercise commenced “another phase of our Four-Phased Strategic Vaccine Roll-Out Plan”,he said the development was “highly encouraging and motivating for us at the Presidential Steering Committee.”

The national flag-off, according to him,was “aimed at informing Nigerians that we are commencing another phase of our Four-Phased Strategic Vaccine Roll-Out Plan.”

While noting that COVID-19 had seriously penetrated into the country, especially as “the third wave with the Delta variant of the virus is here with us”,he regretted that,” This has resulted in the upsurge of COVID-19 cases in the last few weeks.”

 Assuring 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”, the said:”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.”

“The Presidential Steering Committee will continue to monitor with concern the increasing trend of COVID-19 cases in several countries with special focus on those with high incidence rate and widespread prevalence of variants of concern.

“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.

“Consequently, restrictions are placed on travellers from Brazil, India, South Africa and Turkey into Nigeria in line with our travel guidelines”,he said.

According to him,” Individuals, transporters, and airlines who flout the guidelines shall be sanctioned.”

“State governments are required to ensure all returning travelers 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 warned.

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

“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,”he said.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation said:”The first phase of our COVID-19 vaccination and the entire National Response has been adjudged by WHO as one of the best in the world. This is very heartwarming. However, we acknowledge that there is still room for improvement. I commend NPHCDA and our Partners for the various initiatives they have introduced to address vaccine hesitancy which was one of the greatest challenges encountered during the first phase. We invite all hands to be on deck to fight vaccine hesitancy in order to free our country and the rest of the world from this pandemic.”

“I therefore urge 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.

“It is therefore imperative that even after vaccination, you will continue to observe the non-pharmaceutical measures – wear your face mask, wash your hands frequently, maintain physical distancing, until we have vaccinated enough eligible Nigerians to achieve herd immunity,”he added.

He commended stakeholders, especially “governors for the demonstration of sterling leadership by example and for the oversight during the first phase.”

 “As the second phase of vaccination commences today, I believe our governors and all those in leadership positions will intensify mobilization efforts and continue to facilitate the vaccination of eligible persons in the states and local government areas to ensure all allocated vaccines for the second phase are fully utilized, just as we did during the first phase when we had one hundred percent utilization of available vaccines,” said.

On his part,the Executive Director,National Primary Health Care Development Agency,NPHCDA,Dr Faisal Shuaib,while announcing the donation of another 698,880 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, donated from the UK Government through the COVAX facility, disclosed that:”These doses will be targeted at those that are due for their 2nd dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

” In the next couple of weeks, we will be expecting up to 3.9million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines to complement what we already have and to ensure that we cover not only those who will be taking their 2nd AstraZeneca vaccine but also for those who will want to take their first dose of this vaccine,”he said.

He said:”We thank the Government of the United States for “its magnanimity in donating 4,000,080 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which we received in-country on August 1st, 2021.  This was followed last week with the arrival of 177,600 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine which is the first tranche of the almost 40 million doses the Federal Government has procured  from the Africa-Export-Import (AFREXIM) Bank through the African Union. The balance of the vaccine will be delivered over the coming months.

 “We sincerely appreciate the AFREXIM Bank President and his team for working tirelessly to ensure that the African countries are not short-changed in the access to the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines.

 “Because the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a one dose effective vaccine, the 177,600 doses will be focused on those who live in the hard-to-reach areas (riverine areas, desert areas, mountainous areas and security-compromised areas) and the elderly. This is because they are people who may find it difficult to leave their homes to the health facility for second dose vaccination.”

According to him,” As a result of the leadership provided by the Presidential Steering Committee and the Federal Ministry of Health, NPHCDA in collaboration with our partners have mapped out the best strategies in targeting different segments of our populations because of the differences in vulnerability, age, and geographical constraints.”

“In preparations for commencement of Phase 2 vaccination, we have trained 40,739 state level personnel comprising of our health workers and partners on our phase 2 strategic vaccine roll out plan in order to capacitate them for this roll out. We are fully aware that because Nigeria has started receiving different brands of COVID-19 vaccine, a lot of questions and concerns are being raised on what brand differences would mean to the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. We are also aware that mischief makers are still around the corner to take advantage in crafting false information to mislead people on the vaccination.

“I want to assure Nigerians that all brands of COVID-19 vaccine used in Nigeria are certified by NAFDAC as safe and effective especially against the Delta variant,”he assured.

“We believe that overcoming misinformation and disinformation will not only enable us overcome vaccine hesitancy but also facilitate recovery from economic downturn imposed by COVID-19 on the country. Our Crisis Communication Centre is therefore firmed up to deliver rapid data analysis for intensive public information management on COVID-19 vaccination in the country,”the NPHCDA’s boss added.

While commending “everyone who has taken the vaccine” and appreciating “others who have supported the course of the COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria”,he advised that:” To those of us who have taken the vaccines, I would like to encourage us to speak to our loved ones, friends, and colleagues and encourage them to get vaccinated”, saying:”Because for us to stop this pandemic, we need a critical herd immunity that can only be approached when we reach at least 70% herd immunity. “

The World Health Organisation, WHO,which spoke at the occasion through its Country Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo,on behalf of partners supporting the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out in the country,congratulated the Presidential Steering Committee,the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency,NPHCDA ,”for successfully vaccinating over 2,5 million and 1,4 million persons with 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 first tranche of COVID-19 vaccines,”he said.

“The introduction of these vaccines comes with a huge logistical preparation for the storage of Moderna vaccine. Partners are very happy with the Federal Government 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.

The WHO representative spoke further:”This is good sign of a committed government leadership at national and state level to have it citizens vaccinated against the disease.

“Going by the lessons learnt from the Phase 1 of COVID-19 rollout, we have no doubt that the Government of Nigeria will be able to overcome all challenges for a successful Phase 2 rollout.

“It is being proposed to integrate Primary Health Care (PHC) services with COVID-19 vaccination at the fixed posts (otherwise called “Whole of Family” approach). This intervention if properly implemented, will ensure clients are not denied routine PHC services during COVID-19 vaccination, improving the country health indices. 

“As I always mentioned at different fora, 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.

“We would like to remind everyone, that most countries, including Nigeria, are currently experiencing the third waves of COVID-19 outbreaks.

“We call on everyone aged 18 years and above that is yet to take the COVID-19 vaccine, to come out and get vaccinated and by so doing, help to interrupt the community transmission of the disease.

“Partners will continue to support the country in reaching its targeted population with Safe and effective vaccines.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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