From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo will on Saturday receive the COVID-19 vaccine publicly.
The move is to thwart vaccine hesitancy which is reported to be increasing worldwide.
This is even as the Federal Government declared that states that were yet to meet safety and security conditions would not receive the vaccines.
Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this at the second edition of State House weekly briefing, which focused on Nigeria’s response to COVID-19 pandemic in the last one year, and especially the National Vaccination Response.
Nigeria received its first batch of about four doses of AstraZeneca vaccine on Tuesday.
Shuaib said the number one and two citizens will receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after some frontline health workers had been vaccinated today. He also said the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha will also receive his first dose of the vaccine while members of the Federal Executive Council would be vaccinated on Monday.
“After we are able to get our strategic leaders to publicly demonstrate that these vaccines are safe, the plan is to now go to the state level to start the launch at the treatment centres and also get strategic leaders such as governors to publicly take the vaccines. By the time all of these happen, we would have finished all of the necessary preparations and created a dashboard that will track very carefully the status of the preparedness of the states.
“We will not be sending vaccines to states that have not fulfilled all of the criteria that will ensure that if the vaccines get to the states, they are going to be safe.
“For example, we have communicated to the states that they have to wrap up their security around their cold stores because these are very valuable vaccines and we do not want a situation where vaccines are taken to the states and criminal elements take advantage to vandalise these cold stores.
“We are also aware that during the #EndSARS vandalisation, there were some cold stores that actually suffered. I know that the state governors are trying to fix those but we have to verify that those are ready to receive our vaccines.
“We are working with the sub-national level; we are in conversation with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum to see how Nigerians can rapidly get their vaccines. It is very critical that we roll out rapidly so that we can cut into any kind of mutation that can lead to the development of resistance against our vaccines.”
The NPHCDA boss said 50 per cent of Nigerians have agreed to take the jab while 25 per cent of citizens are still reluctant about being vaccinated, mostly as a result of fear.
He, however, did not say how the agency arrived at the figure, but enjoined Nigerians who wish to receive the vaccines to register on the website of the agency.
Meanwhile, Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Iheakwazu, has warned that as much as vaccines provide some important light, the response of testing, surveillance, protecting health workers, investing in national health security, driving risk communications, etc. has to continue.
He noted that yesterday made it exactly a year and five days since COVID-19 was identified in the country.
Director General of National Agency for Food Drugs and Administration Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said since the arrival of the vaccine in the country on Tuesday, the agency has been carrying out series of checks on the efficacy of the vaccine.
She said that the agency and the NPHCDA were working closely to ensure smooth roll out of the vaccination today.