COVID-19 vaccine rollout begins in Africa’s most populous country

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Abuja, Nigeria on March 6, 2021. The first batch of COVAX vaccines to arrive in March, the country aims to inoculate 70% of 200 million people by 2022. Credit: Africa Renewal
  • Notice by Leon Usigbe (The United Nations)
  • Inter Press Service

The delivery is part of a first phase of arrivals in Nigeria which will continue in the days and weeks to come. It is part of the COVAX Facilities Arrangement, which is led by GAVI and the World Health Organization (WHO), to ensure fair and equitable distribution in all countries. It marks a major step towards equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines around the world.

In total, Nigeria expects 84 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. This is expected to cover around 20% of the country’s 200 million people. The AstraZeneca vaccine requires two doses per person.

Nigerian Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that, thanks to his agreements with the African Import-Export Bank (Afrexim Bank), around 80 to 85 million doses of vaccines are guaranteed for the country.

The government is also mobilizing the private sector to support the purchase of vaccines. Recently, telecommunications giant MTN delivered 300,000 doses and other large companies are expected to follow MTN’s lead. To ensure the quality of vaccines, these companies are encouraged to channel donated vaccines through Afrexim Bank.

Local pharmaceutical manufacturers may be able to produce a COVID-19 vaccine within a year, said Boss Mustapha, chairman of the Presidential COVID-19 Task Force, the coordinating agency for the response to the pandemic of the country. As a result, the government is mobilizing financial and logistical support for them.

70% coverage of 200 million people by 2022

The goal is to have enough vaccines for 70% of Nigeria’s 200 million people by 2022, adds Mustapha, also secretary of the Federation government.

Mustapha sought to allay fears about Nigeria’s ability to manage an immunization campaign, highlighting the country’s long experience in managing mass immunization programs, particularly against polio.

Reluctance to vaccinate, however, is strong among Nigerians according to a survey by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, which showed that only 50% of the population would like to be vaccinated.

Despite repeated assurances from the government, many citizens still believe vaccines have long-term side effects.

Fight hesitation

To dispel these feelings and prove his safety, President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo ran their vaccinations live.

“I received my first jab and would like to recommend all eligible Nigerians to do the same so that we can be protected from the virus,” Buhari said, moments after receiving his first dose.

Due to the country’s unreliable power supply and the overwhelming need for ultra-cold freezer vaccines, the AstraZeneca vaccine, with its higher temperature requirements, appears to be ahead of the competition.

“All we expect from the COVAX facility will be the AstraZeneca variety,” Dr Ehanire explained to Africa renewal. It has a good storage range for us as it uses just plus 2 ° Celsius to plus 8 ° Celsius of refrigeration. It doesn’t come with a new complication.

Even more critical is the ability of the local government to manage immunization. Distribution to the various states of the country began 24 hours after the vaccine arrived in the country. Prior to arrival, the central government grounded access to vaccines, with states satisfactorily qualifying to keep them safe and potent.

“We will not send vaccines to states that have not met all the criteria that will ensure their safety,” said Dr Faisal Shuaib, executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.

The central government has appointed vaccine officials in states and local communities to closely monitor their management and use. These agents should also ensure the collection of vaccine vials for proper disposal.

Individual states should not hand over vaccines to their local governments unless they meet the minimum criteria for the successful conduct of campaigns such as training, cold storage capacities, availability of data collection tools and transport and logistics for care workers, adequate safety for vaccines, among others.

Digital registration

Nigeria is currently registering people electronically for vaccination to ensure efficient and orderly planning of the date and time of vaccine receipt, Shuaib said. Africa renewal. This is the first time that Nigeria has pre-registered people for vaccination.

Anyone 18 years of age and older can register for vaccination through an electronic registration portal. The country relies on the media to promote this electronic registration as part of an electronic management system for immunization data.

The vaccination is then carried out in phases, according to predetermined classifications, explains Shuaib. Frontline health workers are given priority for the vaccine so they can safely care for others.

The primary health care agency uses its electronic database to track those who have received the first dose so that it knows when to receive their second dose.

“We get the date of the first dose and when they take the second. We have their names and addresses in the database, ”confirms Shuaib to Africa renewal.

Meanwhile, the rate of COVID-19 infections is alarming for authorities. As of the third week of March, the Nigerian CDC reported more than 162,000 confirmed cases and around 2,000 deaths.

Source: Africa Renewal, United Nations

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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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