Federal Government, on Friday, flagged off COVID-19 vaccination exercise in Abuja, with the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine to few health care workers at the National Hospital, Abuja.
Brief ceremony to herald the commencement of the exercise took place at the Trauma Centre, at National Hospital, Abuja, with impressive representation of the officials of the Federal Government.
Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, Ministers of Health, FCT and several others including representatives of donor partners attended the event.
Also, appreciable number of local and international journalists are also gathered to witness and report the event to local and international audience.
Nigeria, on Tuesday, 2nd March, 2021, took delivery of four million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine which is the first batch of expected vaccines, ahead of the commencement of the vaccination exercise to Nigerians after several “delays” and shift in arrival date, perhaps, as a result of failed logistics arrangements or other unforeseen circumstances that might had elongated the arrival of the vaccine.
The vaccines arrived Nigeria through the collective efforts of GAVI the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), with UNICEF as a key implementing partner.
Information from the PTF indicated that on Saturday, March 6th, key strategic leaders, notably, the President, Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, would receive the first dose of the vaccine.
On Monday March 8th 2021, more vaccination sites would have been set up at designated locations such as National Assembly clinic, State House clinic and Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Jabi, Abuja, where strategic leaders such as the SGF, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Attorney General of the Federation, Inspector General of Police, the Ministers and Ministers of States, Senators, House of Representatives, traditional leaders and religious leaders would be vaccinated.
After the launch and initial roll-out phase, vaccine distribution to States for the phase 1 vaccination exercise will begin. All frontline health workers, their supporting staff and strategic leaders would be vaccinated. It was gathered that deployment of vaccines to the states would be based on the assessment of their level of preparedness.
Parameters that would be used for the assessment include adequate maintenance of their cold chain storage facilities, adequate preparation for logistic transportation to the ward/ health facility, adequate security in place during transportation and at vaccination sites, completion of training of health workers, efficient social mobilization activities in place, adherence to protocol for vaccine deployment
The four million doses was part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to Nigeria in batches over the next few months by the COVAX Facility, as part of an unprecedented global effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It was, however, a big relief for the Federal Government and Nigerians who have long desired and waited for the vaccine which, expectedly, will assist in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.