Moderna vaccines donated by the US to step up efforts to battle a third wave of the COVID-19 have been deployed to 29 states, Dr Faisal Shuaib, executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) disclosed in Abuja, yesterday.
The donation was part of President Joe Biden’s promise to give 500 million vaccines to the world by the end of 2022. The vaccines are brought in through COVAX, the international aid initiative that seeks to ensure global access to vaccines.
Shuaib said the agency could not deploy the vaccines immediately after the NAFDAC certification because, unlike the Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna vaccine did not come with a complete barcoding.
A barcode, consisting of bars and spaces, is a machine-readable representation of numerals and characters. There are two primary types of barcodes, linear and 2D. Linear and 2D barcodes serve the same purpose, however 2D barcodes can store more information in less area.
The NPHCDA boss said, “this is absolutely needed for us to be able to track and trace the vaccines. Nigeria was the first country to use track and trace, to monitor the movement and utilisation of the vaccine.
“At every point in time, we know where each vaccine vial is in the country. This takes a lot of time as it entails careful packaging, serialisation and follow up to the end user.’’
He said that any state the agency was sending the vaccines to was fully ready to receive them.
“Readiness here means that the state’s ultra-cold chain equipment is fully functional and able to store the vaccines at the required temperatures. Also, the states must have back-up storage facilities such as walk-in cold room, walk-in freezer or chest freezers with reliable 24-hour power supply.
“Additionally, we require that the states have trained health care workers who will monitor the equipment and the vaccines.
“Now that the vaccines are in the states, we are counting on our governors to continue to provide the needed oversight and resources to ensure that these vaccines are secured and maintained in the required temperatures and that all eligible persons are mobilised to access the vaccines to protect themselves, their families and their communities against COVID-19,” he urged.
Shuaib said that for Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is a single dose, using the Geographical Information System (GIS) the agency had mapped out the hard-to-reach areas across all states, such as security-compromised, riverine, nomadic and border settlements, where these vaccines would be deployed for targeted vaccination.
Representative from UNICEF in Nigeria, Dr. Peter Hawkins, called on Nigerians to receive the vaccines available in the country, noting that they were all verified to be efficacious.
Hawkins, who was represented by Dr Gupta Gagan, of UNICEF, said the vaccine can be lifesaving but people will only take on information that they trust.