federal Government has given the Nigeria Customs Services and the National Agency for Food Drugs and Administration Control (NAFDAC) the go ahead to seize and destroy unauthorised vaccines.
This is even as it ruled out private sector participation in the vaccination of Nigeria’s allocation of four million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines expected today.
It also raised the alarm of possible third wave if Nigerians failed to adhere to the non-pharmaceutical measures put in place by government.
Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, announced the directive at yesterday’s media briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
According to him, all manufacturers of vaccines require an official indemnification to be able to use their product, and government won’t be signing indemnity for what it cannot defend.
“As the much expected first batch of COVID vaccines from the COVAX facility arrives from Mumbai to Nigeria tomorrow, all plans and arrangements have been finalised to ensure a hitch free rollout of vaccination, including training of health workers, secured logistics and cold chain equipment to receive vaccines in all wards of the federation. The vaccines will be received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport and delivered to the National Strategic Cold Store (NSCS), Abuja, where inspection and quality tests will be conducted by NAFDAC and due documentation and certification done.
“We shall begin the roll out with the vaccination of frontline health workers who are our first line of defence. Our goal is to introduce the COVID-19 vaccine in a phased and equitable manner, ultimately vaccinating all eligible Nigerians within the next two years to ensure herd immunity. World Health Organization recommendation is not to vaccinate persons under 18 years of age, until more scientific data is available on any effects on growing children.
“The TEACH Strategy of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) for COVID-19 vaccination and the Electronic Management of Immunization Data System was launched today. The innovative strategy will enable a smooth roll out of vaccination and ensure that no beneficiary is left behind.
“It is important to mention that Nigeria is expecting enough vaccines of three types, to cater to our needs, with the option to increase supply if need be. There will, for now, be no need for ungoverned private importation of vaccines. Vaccine deployment will be by NPHCDA, till further notice and I can assure all citizens that they are in a position to cater to the needs of all persons, as in the rollout strategy, but also able to respond to institutions, clusters and settings, including closed settings like prisons and IDPs, with deployment of NPHCDA vaccination teams. This is upon application and special arrangements.
“All manufacturers of vaccines require an official indemnification to be able Pol to use their product, which Nigeria has provided for the Covax facility. Vaccines from any other sources must first have NAFDAC’s Emergency Use Authorization, and are not covered under the indemnification arrangement. Such vaccines will be illegal and therefore subject to be impounded by NAFDAC and Customs. All vaccines coming into Nigeria will arrive only by the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja. Arrival at any other airport will not be allowed and sure to be confiscated by Customs. It is important to have an orderly, disciplined rollout to avoid chaos in the immunization scene.
“I urge all eligible Nigerians to turn up when invited to be vaccinated with covid-19 vaccine. This is the way to achieve our target of herd immunity and end the transmission of this deadly virus.
“I again advise that rollout of vaccination does not end or excuse from observing the public health measures. They should be obeyed even more strictly than before, as there is no room for relaxing, even if it seems the infection rate is reducing. There are countries experiencing the third wave, after surviving the second phase, a reason for us to beware.”
The chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha on his part described the arrival of the vaccines as a ray of hope.
“This development offers a huge ray of hope that comes with its own challenges and responsibilities for all Nigerians. We must all be prepared to take responsibility.
“The following facts are germane: The development of vaccines is a ray of hope is a welcome development; Vaccines alone cannot be a solution; Accessing vaccines has been strategic and deliberate; Vaccines coming to Nigeria shall be safe and efficacious; The PTF is coordinating while the Federal Ministry of Health(FMOH), and The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA)are directly implementing using existing infrastructure and skills set; The required Vaccines Strategy Steering Committee has been set up by the HM Health; The administration of vaccines shall be prioritised in a strategic manner beginning with health sector frontline workers and strategic leadership; Over 2021 and 2022, we aim to vaccinate 70 per cent of the population.”
The PTF boss also warned that the achievement of core objectives behind the aforementioned germane facts on vaccines shall remain farfetched if Nigerians fail to overcome the following: vaccines hesitancy and scepticism; Elite resistance; possible emergence of unauthorised or fake vaccines; collaboration and support from sub-nationals; double registration and fake information; security.
Also speaking on the marking of one year of first index case in Nigeria, the PTF chairman said: “The last one year has revealed the strength of collaboration and the positive spirit of sacrifice and public service inherent in Nigerians. The unity of purpose demonstrated through the financial, material and technical support have been phenomenal. The successes recorded are directly attributable to the strong support received.
“I also wish to publicly acknowledge with thanks, the support of private and public entities including-CACOVID; NNPC, CBN, corporate organisations, the security agencies, all MDAs, airlines, the Armed Forces, etc. Particularly, I wish to make a special mention of all media organisations for communicating the risks and the messages. You have been more than wonderful.
“The support of the international community and development partners has proven that their friendship with Nigeria is real, for good times and difficult times. We do not take this for granted.
“The frontline workers, particularly the medical personnel are strongly acknowledged. The PTF notes that several frontline workers got infected in their line of duty. Your sacrifices shall, however, never go unrecognized.
“Despite the challenges, the PTF swished to commend the National Response as successful. At inception, the primary aim was to strengthen the health system to withstand this and other pandemics, slow down the spread and minimize the fatalities. We have reasonably achieved these objectives and more.
The COVAX Facility is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), with UNICEF as a key implementing partner.
The COVAX was launched in April 2020, to help ensure a fairer distribution of coronavirus vaccines between rich and poor nations, said it would deliver two billion doses to its members by the end of 2021.