SPEECH BY DR FAISAL SHUAIB, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL PRIMARY HEALTH CARE DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (NPHCDA) AT THE FLAG-OFF OF COVID-19 MASS VACCINATION OF REFUGEES, MIGRANTS, AND INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS AT WARU INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSON CAMP, ABUJA HELD ON THURSDAY 9TH DECEMBER 2021
- It is with a great sense of responsibility and concern for the health and well-being of us all and indeed every Nigerian that we are here today at the flag-off of the mass vaccination campaign. This is being done to fast-track the coverage of all eligible persons. Our special attention on the IDP Camps underscores the government’s recognition of the vulnerable conditions of our friends and families who are temporarily here.
- Today, Thursday, December 9th, 2021, 7,361,810 Nigerians have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and this represents 6.6% of the eligible population. 3,846,762 eligible Nigerians have received their second doses and are fully vaccinated against the virus representing 3.4% of the eligible population.
- As you are aware, since the detection of the first case of COVID-19 infection in Nigeria about two years ago, the Federal Government has taken decisive steps to control the spread of the virus in the Country. Despite the challenges of large-scale misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, Nigeria has successfully vaccinated over seven million eligible persons, and I am glad to inform you that none of these persons has died as a result of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Our record of successful vaccine rollout has been based on the consistent support from President Muhammadu Buhari and the guidance of the Chairman of Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 – Mr. Boss Mustapha, and the Honorable Minister of Health – Dr. Osagie Ehanire. While we remain grateful to God Almighty for using these leaders to intervene for our dear country, it is important to mention that the decision of over 7 million Nigerians to take the COVID-19 vaccine has been based on their rightful conviction that the vaccines are safe and effective in protecting them against the disease. We appreciate the courage, resilience, and patriotism that Nigerians have continued to demonstrate in accepting to be vaccinated against COVID-19. And as time has come to prove that we were not wrong to have accepted the polio vaccine, time will come to prove that we are not wrong to accept the COVID-19 vaccine.
- The Federal Government under the able leadership of our dear President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to ensure that every eligible Nigeria and indeed any persons in Nigeria has access to the COVID-19 vaccines. It is in furtherance of this determination that we introduced the COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Campaign to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 Vaccines by everyone.
- Our presence here today, to flag off the vaccination of our brothers and sisters in these camps across the country is also in fulfilment of that determination. Everyone, no matter where they are in the country MUST have access to the COVID-19 vaccines.
- And as a result of our commitment to all Nigerians, COVID-19 vaccines are now accessible in all public, primary, secondary, and tertiary health facilities, private health facilities, worship centers, schools, markets, motor parks, shopping malls, etc, in order to fast track social and economic recovery from COVID-19. Suffice to say, we have sufficient doses of COVID-19 vaccines for this mass vaccination campaign.
- Following the detection of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in Nigeria, the Federal Government reviewed the country’s vaccination program and resolved to introduce the booster dose using the Pfizer Bio-N-Tech vaccine across the country. This will take effect from tomorrow, Friday the 10th of December 2021.
- It is pertinent to reiterate the fact that the Nigerian COVID-19 vaccination program is science-driven. Evidence has shown that the booster dose further increases protection against the virus. Eligibility for the booster dose includes being 18 years and above, fully vaccinated with either two doses of AstraZeneca, Moderna, or Pfizer Bio-N-Tech, or a single dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The time interval before the booster dose is at least six months for these vaccines, except the Johnson and Johnson which is at least two months.
- This is another opportunity to be further protected. I, therefore, urge all those who have taken the right decision to be fully vaccinated, to walk into the nearest vaccination site for their booster dose as from tomorrow.
- I want to reassure everyone that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and efficacious. We have in place the required measures and precautions to ensure vaccine monitoring and accountability. We are committed to ensuring that our vaccination teams will be available on-site here and in other camps daily until every eligible person has received their vaccines. I, therefore, urge camp leaders to take responsibility and ensure all members are fully vaccinated. Please do not hesitate to demand the vaccines if the teams stop coming and there are still unvaccinated persons in the camp. It is your right to get vaccinated.
- At this juncture, may I emphasize that taking the COVID-19 vaccine is not just an act of self-protection but also a civic duty to curtail the spread of the virus in the camp and in Nigeria? Every one of us has a critical role to play in mobilizing our friends, families, and campmates to the vaccination site. Remember, no one is safe from COVID-19 until everyone is safe.
- Even after vaccination let us continue to wear our face masks, wash our hands frequently, observe physical distancing and avoid large gatherings until Nigeria achieves full vaccination of all its eligible population.
- I thank you for listening.
God bless you all and God bless Nigeria.
Dr Faisal Shuaib