Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen,
- It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to the national flag-off of the Phase 2 COVID-19 vaccine roll out in Nigeria. This flag-off is necessitated by the need to create awareness on what we will be doing differently to ensure a more successful vaccination campaign.
- Permit me to start by expressing my profound appreciation to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari for his fatherly commitment to the course of COVID-19 vaccination in the country. It is gratifying to mention that the support of our dear President has been without limit to the country’s capability in providing everything that is needed to ensure that Nigerians are protected against COVID-19 pandemic.
- I commend our health workers for the professionalism, dedication and resilience they have continued to show by staying on course to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to eligible persons despite the pressure of disinformation from within and outside the country.
- It is important to also mention that without our dedicated and hardworking staff at NPHCDA, NOA, NTA, FRCN, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, the Media, and the tremendous support of our development partners, the country could not have succeeded in fully utilizing the COVID-19 vaccines we received from COVAX facility for our first phase of vaccination. Although WHO has rated Nigeria as one of the best performing in the vaccination response, we are not satisfied because we know we can be the best!
- You would recall, ladies and gentlemen, that Nigeria received 4,024,000 doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVAX facility in March 2021. We successfully vaccinated 3,966,005, eligible persons across 36 States and FCT, representing 98.6% utilization of the vaccines during our first Phase of the vaccination. This is comprised of 2,549,599 people who were vaccinated for first dose, and 1,416,406 who have received their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
- We thank the United States Government for its magnanimity in donating 4,000,080 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which we received in-country on August 1st, 2021. This was followed last week with the arrival of 177,600 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine which is the first tranche of the 29,850,000 doses the Federal Government has procured from the Africa-Export-Import (AFREXIM) Bank through the African Union. The balance of the vaccine will be delivered over the coming months. We sincerely appreciate the AFREXIM Bank President and his team for working tirelessly to ensure that the African countries are not short-changed in the access to the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines.
- Because the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a one dose effective vaccine, the 177,600 doses will be focused on those who are in the hard-to-reach areas (riverine areas, desert areas and security-compromised areas) and the elderly. This is because they are people who may find it difficult to leave their homes to the health facility for second dose vaccination.
- We will also be receiving today 698,880 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, a donation from the UK Government through the COVAX facility. These doses will be targeted at those due for their 2nd dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. In the next couple of weeks, we will be expecting up to 3.9million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines to complement what we already have and to ensure that we cover not only those who will be taking their 2nd AstraZeneca vaccine but also for those who will want to take their first dose of this vaccine.
- As a result of the leadership provided by the Presidential Steering Committee and the Federal Ministry of Health, NPHCDA in collaboration with our partners have mapped out the best strategies in targeting different segments of our populations because of the differences in vulnerability, age, and geographical constraints.
- In preparations for commencement of Phase 2 vaccination, we have trained 40,739 state level personnel comprising of our health workers and partners on our phase 2 strategic vaccine roll out plan with attention on what we will be doing differently around logistics, data, and communications to improve overall delivery of vaccination in the country. We are fully aware that because Nigeria has started receiving different brands of COVID-19 vaccine, a lot of questions and concerns are being raised on what brand differences would mean to the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. We are also aware that mischief makers are still around the corner to take advantage in crafting false information to mislead people on the vaccination. This is to assure Nigerians that all brands of COVID-19 vaccine used in Nigeria is safe and effective especially against the Delta variant.
- Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we believe that overcoming misinformation and disinformation will not only enable us overcome vaccine hesitancy but also facilitate recovery from economic downturn imposed by COVID-19 on the country. Our Crisis Communication Centre is therefore firmed up to deliver rapid data analysis for intensive public information management on COVID-19 vaccination in the country.
- Finally, I commend everyone who has taken the vaccine and appreciate others who have supported the course of the COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria. To those of us who have taken the vaccines, I would like to encourage us to speak to our loved ones, friends, and colleagues and encourage them to get vaccinated. Because for us to stop this pandemic, we need a critical herd immunity that can only be approached when we reach at least 70% herd immunity. it is the responsibility of all Nigerians to ensure they disseminate the right information to their loved ones and community members and advocate that people should take the vaccines so that we can continue to build our immunity and eventually return to our normal ways of living.
- Even after vaccination, let us continue to observe the non-pharmaceutical measures such as wearing of facemask, physical distancing, and hand hygiene as we work together to fight this pandemic.
God bless you God bless Nigeria.
Dr. Faisal Shuaib ED/CEO NPHCDA