By Dan-Maryam Zayamu
The delay in the deployment of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine even after its certification by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) was to enable the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) fix track-and-trace device on them.
This was disclosed by the Executive Director of the agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, who announced however, that the vaccines have now been deployed to 29 States of the Federation.
According to him: “So far, we have deployed Moderna vaccines to 29 States. It is pertinent to state that we could not deploy the vaccines immediately after NAFDAC certification because, unlike the AstraZeneca, the Moderna vaccine did not come with complete barcoding. And this is absolutely needed for us to be able to track and trace the vaccines.
“Nigeria was the first country to use Track and Trace, to monitor the movement and utilization of the vaccine. At every point in time, we know where each vaccine vial is in the country. This takes a lot of time as it entails careful packaging, serialization and follow up to the end user.
“Furthermore, we want to ensure that any state we are sending the vaccine to, is fully ready to receive them. Readiness here means that the state’s ultra-cold chain equipment is fully functional and able to store the vaccines at the required temperatures.
“Also, the states must have back-up storage facilities such as Walk-in cold room, Walk-in freezer or chest freezers with reliable 24-hrs power supply.
“Additionally, we require that the States have completed the training of health care workers who will monitor the equipment and the vaccines.”
While soliciting for the support of the state governors in order to provide the needed conducive environment for the vaccines in the states, Dr. Shuaib, said: “Now that the vaccines are in the States, we are counting on our governors to continue to provide the needed oversight and resources to ensure that these vaccines are secured and maintained in the required temperatures and that all eligible persons are mobilized to access the vaccines to protect themselves, their families and their communities against COVID-19.”
On the deployment of the Johnson & Johnson, he said: “For the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is a single dose, using Geographical Information System (GIS) we have mapped out the hard-to-reach areas across all States, such as security-compromised, riverine, nomadic and border settlements where these vaccines will be deployed for targeted vaccination.
“Again, the reason for targeting these areas with the Johnson & Johnson is because of geographical constraints that make it difficult to reach the dwellers with the second dose after the first contact.
“Secondly, it removes the additional logistic cost of going to these communities twice.
“We have developed the necessary protocols to guide the states and ensure compliance with the distribution guideline for the vaccine.
“The AstraZeneca vaccine will be used as the second dose for those who received their first dose during the first phase, to ensure they are fully vaccinated.
“Consequently, the administration of AstraZeneca Vaccine will commence on August 25 and will close on September 5.”
He, therefore, called on all those who received their first dose prior to July 8 to visit a designated vaccination site from August 25 to September 5 in order to receive their second dose and become fully protected against COVID-19.
The representative, from United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF) in Nigeria, Dr Peter Hawkins, said that the vaccines have been verified to be safe and efficacious, hence, appealed to all Nigerians to receive them.
Represented by, Dr. Gupta Gagan, Hawkins, called on Nigerians to accept and make use of the right information given by the government and the relevant authorities concerning the vaccines.
He noted that: “There are useful information around COVID-19 vaccines, from the Nigeria Center for Disease Control(NCDC), World Health Organisation(WHO), and NPHCDA, website, where they can get verified information”.