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FG Set To Expand Access To Vaccines, Involves Private Sector

Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA),Dr Faisal Shuaib.

By Deborah Musa, Abuja

The Federal government disclosed on Tuesday that in the coming months, Nigeria will receive more Covid-19 vaccines in large quantity and will require faster ways of utilizing them.As such, it is set to expand access to vaccines by involving the private sector in vaccine administration

The Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA),Dr Faisal Shuaib, who disclosed this also said a total of 501, 600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines was received from France Government as a donation to the country through the COVAX facility

He also disclosed that in the next two weeks, the country will receive 3,577,860 doses of Pfizer vaccines.

Dr Faisal made this disclosure in Abuja at a press briefing on the progress of COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria.

He stated that, only private health facilities who meet set criteria for vaccine administration will be allocated COVID-19 vaccines and allowed to administer to persons

According to him, approved health facilities which would be given the privilege to administer vaccines would first go through a due training of their immunization service providers as the goal is to expand access to Covid-19 vaccine and ensure rapid and safe vaccine utilization

He said, “I would like to inform you that yesterday evening, we received 501,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility as donation from the Government of France. We have also gotten confirmation that we will be receiving 3,577,860 doses of Pfizer vaccines within the next two weeks.

“In the coming months, Nigeria will be receiving more doses of COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX facility. We anticipate that the vaccines will be quite large in amount, and therefore will require more efficient and faster ways of utilizing them, including expanding access to the vaccines.

“We have therefore started implementing the decentralisation of vaccine utilisation by involving the private sector in the vaccine administration. Currently, COVID-19 vaccines are available at Government health facilities only. As we decentralize, private health facilities who meet the set criteria will be allocated COVID-19 vaccines, after due training of their immunization service providers.
“Vaccinations in private health facility will continue with the help of Government health officials. Subsequently, clients will be able to access COVID-19 vaccines at both government and private health care facilities in the country. This will be done at different levels which would include the States and Local Governments. We are taking every caution to ensure that when implemented, the decentralization policy is not corrupted. Private health care facilities will be carefully selected based on transparent eligibility criteria, and supervision will be maximized to ensure discipline and compliance with safety measures. The goal, as I said is to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines and to ensure rapid and safe vaccine utilization”

DR Faisal disclosed said the number of persons who have received their first vaccine jab in the country as at 4th of October 2021, was 4,963,985 eligible persons

He added that this figure represents 4.4% of the targeted 111,776,503 eligible population, he also said that about 2,166,186 people have received their second doses of the vaccines which means that approximately 1.9% of the eligible population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

He reiterated that only those who have taken their second dose are fully protected against the deadly COVID-19.

Faisal reiterated that Nigeria is not included in UK’s red list, which contains countries who are to go through mandatory quarantine for 14 days in a supervised UK facility on entry into the country

He said, “I would like to comment on the UK Government’s statement which was released yesterday. Nigeria’s status has not changed. Nigeria is not among the red listed countries that need mandatory quarantine for 14 days in a supervised UK facility.

“The statement released by the UK Government is in line with the Press statement released last week that Nigerians will continue to isolate upon arrival to the UK. This is similar to our requirement to have travellers from the UK, isolate for seven days upon arrival in Nigeria.

“The Presidential Steering Committee is in the process of reviewing these requirements. We have been in touch with the UK Government. Just like they stated clearly in their communication, the current listing of Countries with approved vaccination certification has just started in the UK. They are reviewing the Country’s programs in phases. If you go through the list of 50 closely, no African country made the list. The UK Government is yet to comprehensively review Nigeria’s vaccination certification program. From my communication with the UK Government officials, the vaccines administered in Nigeria are approved by the UK Government.

“They are also involved with the vaccination program in Nigeria through the Foreign, Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) and they are optimistic that by the time Nigeria’s COVID-19 vaccination program certification is assessed, it will be approved. There are many Countries in the World, so we like many other Countries are in the queue for this assessment. Once it gets to our turn, we are more likely than not to get approved in the coming weeks. Like the UK Government have clearly stated, the process of assessment would occur in phases”

Faisal noted that as part of their transparency process to Nigerians and the Media, the Agency would provide figures of the adverse event following immunization

He added that in this phase of the vaccination process, 191 serious and 6,555 non-serious AEFI cases were reported and that all cases reported were managed in the health facility and individuals have fully recovered and back to their normal daily living.

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