From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, has declared that over three million vulnerable Nigerians need to be vaccinated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against the COVID-19.
The vulnerable groups includes the elderly, Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs), Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and the vulnerable poor.
Farouq said her ministry will be working with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to reach these demographics.
‘The Ministry is now working to support vulnerable persons under our purview that requires vaccination in line with the NPHCDA’s plan to reach this group in the second phase,’ the minister stated.
‘Data mined from the National Social Register and various agencies and parastatals under the ministry has now shown that over 3 million persons need this vaccination.’
The minister assured that a proper sensitisation exercise would be conducted before the administration of COVID-19 vaccine.
‘We will ensure that they are properly sensitized of the risk and side effects and receive psychosocial support from our social workers on issues and co-morbidities will be considered before they are administered these vaccines.’
Nigeria received 3.94 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in early March. The country has since commenced vaccination, beginning with fromtline healthcare workers who are often at the risk of exposure to infections being the first responders to patients.
It also received 300,000 doses of the the vaccine from telecom giant MTN on Sunday.
The government aims to vaccinate approximately 109 million people against the COVID-19 virus over a period of two years.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), has said that the National Rapid Response Team had been deployed to Kano State to unravel a mysterious strange illness alongside managing identified victims.
NCDC Director General Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu made this known on Monday in Abuja at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 national briefing.
The undiagnosed illness was reported in Kano, with more than 200 people with four fatalities confirmed by health authorities.
Victims were confirmed in 13 local government areas, including eight metropolitan councils.
According to Ihekweazu, the Kano State Ministry of Health reported a cluster of cases in 13 LGAs within the state
‘Most of the cases have presented with fever, vomiting, yellowish eyes and abdominal pain.
‘We have tested four samples taken from these cases for Lassa fever and yellow fever at the NCDC National Reference Lab. The results of these were negative.
‘A National Rapid Response Team with colleagues from the Federal Ministry of Health, NCDC and NAFDAC has been deployed to Kano State. We are working with our sister agency, NAFDAC, as well as a toxicologist from FMoH to test for potential non-infectious causes,’ Ihekweazu explained.
He said that the agency has also collected additional human and environmental samples for metagenomic sequencing – a method for detecting rare new causes of illness.
‘Our immediate focus is to identify the cause of this outbreak, ensure management of current cases and to control transmission.
‘We will continue to keep members of the public aware on our findings, while we support the state’s response,’ he noted.