The Federal Government has said that the first set of vaccines, expected from Pfizer is expected to arrive in the country by the end of January 2021.
The Executive Secretary, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said this on Tuesday in Abuja during the facility tour of the three new Ultra Cold Chain (UCC) and other storage facilities in preparation to receive the 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
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Though he was not specific on the actual date for the arrival of the vaccines, he said government will leverage on the polio eradication programme in the country just as he acknowledged that the 100,000 doses are just a drop in the ocean.
According to him, “they (vaccines) are going to be applied on 50,000 Nigerians, comprising frontline health workers and elites within the polity, particularly State Governors, traditional and religious leaders, among others and each recipient of the vaccine is also expected to take two doses.
“Nothing to be afraid of”
Shuaib also said that the scepticism by Nigerians about the safety of the vaccines was understood but there was nothing to be afraid of, as it will undergo comprehensive testing by the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
He said the cold storage facilities will be replicated at the state levels, adding that the newly acquired set has capacity to store 400,000 doses effectively.
On concerns raised about the effectiveness of the vaccines outside the storage facility, the NPHCDA said that it can remain effective for at least five days outside the UCC storage facility.
He noted that there is a heavy scepticism and conspiracy theories around the vaccines, but the government is focused to protecting Nigerians from the pandemic.
He said that the community engagement was aimed at educating the grassroots and also sharing the right information about the vaccines.
“Local production to start soon”
According to him, while the expected vaccines will arrive the country by January ending or early February, there was also plans to start local production of COVID-19 Vaccines in Nigeria.
“We are also mindful that we have a lot of work to overcome vaccine hesitancy that we are already seeing, the misinformation, the conspiracy theories around the COVID-19 Vaccines and we do not take for granted that all Nigerians understand the principles around Vaccines production.
“We have to do the hard work. It is not enough to offer the vaccine to Nigerians, we have to do the hard work of sharing information and educating Nigerians about the vaccines, how they were produced, the fact that they are safe and all of the measures.
“No vaccines will be administered to any Nigerian without NAFDAC certifying it. I want to reiterate that the responsibility of taking that decision to vaccinate Nigerians is of the government. It is a sacred trust that we do not take for granted. We are going to be doing it very diligently,” Shuaib said.