The Federal Government has insisted that prioritised persons will be the first in line to be inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine in the country, and not persons considered to be wealthy and affluential.
Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said this on Wednesday, a day after the vaccine arrived in the country for the first time since the outbreak of the virus in February 2020.
Nigeria on Tuesday received 3.94 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZenca COVID-19 vaccine, delivered through the COVAX Facility, an initiative by CEPI, Gavi, UNICEF and WHO to help low and middle-income countries have access to the vaccine.
Contrary to widespread speculations, Shuaib said the vaccine will as from Friday be administered first to only the prioritised persons as enlisted by the Federal Government, comprising healthcare workers and frontline workers (police, military, oil workers etc.) who are at risk of contracting the virus.
The NPHCDA boss – whose agency is tasked with the rollout of the vaccination programme – added that persons in strategic leadership will also be vaccinated early in order to convince Nigerians that the vaccine is safe.
“I will tell you categorically that we have not allotted these vaccines to the rich people or to the people in the urban areas, absolutely not. Mr President has been very clear,” Shuaib said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
“Mr Vice President has also added his voice and the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force has communicated this at the Presidential Task Force media briefings. He has made it very clear in terms of who we are going to prioritise and I will repeat it here again that the first set of people who are going to be taking these vaccines are those people who have sacrificed in the last one year taking care of all Nigerians that have come down with Covid-19. So, the frontline health workers.
“On Friday, we are going to be launching the vaccines, we are going to be rolling them out at the treatment centres at the national hospital. Our priority will be the health workers that are frontline. We are going to be giving these vaccines to first responders.
“We are also going to be looking at people outside of the health sector who are at risk of getting Covid-19. We are going to be looking at those strategic leaders like Mr President and the Vice-President, those people who will also want to take the vaccines publicly so that they can motivate the followers to take the vaccines, to convince them that the vaccines are very safe.”
Shuaib also stated that the vaccines are being protected from preventing unauthorised persons get access to it, adding that the NPHCDA expects a feedback from the National Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) concerning the safety tests carried out on the medication before the inoculation programme begins on Friday.
He said: “We are protecting the vaccines very closely, we’ve increased security around the vaccines to make sure that unauthorised access is not possible.
“So, we are waiting on NAFDAC. We feel that they are going to do all of the checks that are necessary and once they give us the green light, we will be ready to roll out the vaccines.”
He urged all Nigerians to register on the website of the NPHCDA to get their vaccination date.