Soldiers to secure cold chains nationwide
By Olawale Ajimotokan
President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will on Saturday, be among the key national figures to receive the first jabs of Oxford Astra-Zeneca COVID- 19 vaccine scheduled to arrive Abuja Tuesday.
The Executive Director National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib revealed this Monday at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing to unveil the National vaccine roll-out plan.
It was gathered that the vaccine will only be administered on the President after a few vials of it are handed over to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFCAC), for analysis over a period of two days- Wednesday and Thursday- after the ceremonies to mark the arrival of the vaccines.
Shuaib said that after the vaccination of the President and the Vice President and sequel to the clearance by NAFDAC, the PTF, Federal Ministry of Health and NPHCDA, the first national vaccination site will be set up at the treatment center of the National Hospital in Abuja on Friday, March 5, 2021, to commence the vaccination of the frontline health workers and support staff.
The health workers would also be electronically registered in the COVID-19 vaccine database and would receive their COVID-19 vaccination card which has a QR code that can be verified worldwide. President Buhari is expected to grace the occasion.
Afterward, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Inspector General of Police, the Federal Ministers, Senators, House of Representatives members, traditional leaders and religious leaders would be vaccinated on March 8, at the vaccination sites to be set up at designated locations, including National Assembly Clinic, State House Clinic and Federal Medical Centre, Jabi.
“After this launch and initial roll-out phase, vaccine distribution to the States for the phase 1 vaccination process will begin. This phase is the vaccination of all frontline health workers, their supporting staff and strategic leaders. Deployment of vaccines to the states would be based on the assessment of their level of preparedness. Some of the parameters that would be used for the assessment include adequate maintenance of their cold chain storage facilities, adequate preparation for logistic transportation to the ward/ health facility, adequate security in place during transportation and at vaccination sites, completion of training of health workers, efficient social mobilization activities in place, adherence to protocol for vaccine deployment,” Shuaib said.
He added that in collaboration with CACOVID, plans were afoot for a cargo plane to transport the vaccines to the states by air while states without a functional airport will have their vaccines transported by road, using vans with fitted Cold Cabins, from the nearest airport. The vaccines are to be stored at the state cold stores, from where they will be transported by road to LGA cold stores.
He also reiterated that soldiers and policemen will be deployed to protect the cold stores which are valuable national assets from being vandalized by looters.
He noted once activities have commenced in the states, there would be strict monitoring of the vaccination by PTF, Ministry of Health, NPHCDA and independent bodies such as EFCC, DSS, ICPC, and Civil Society Organisations, warning that states/health facilities and health workers that are identified as defaulting from the standard protocol and guidelines for this phase of vaccination would be sanctioned.
He stated that the National team would be ready for the arrival of the next batch of vaccines from Harvard facility which is the African Vaccine Action team, a combination AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines, for the phase two of vaccination, to involve the elderly from 50 years and above, across all 36 States and the FCT.
The phase 3 vaccination process involves vaccination of those between 18 – 49years with co-morbidities (such as hypertension, diabetes, lung disease, other heart disease, liver or renal disease, etc) while phase 4 vaccination process would involve vaccination of the rest of the eligible population between the ages 18 – 49years.
The NPHCDA Executive Director urged all eligible Nigerians aged 18 years and above to be patient as they will eventually, be vaccinated as the vaccines arrive in batches due to limited supply.
Also speaking at the briefing the Chairman PTF, Mr Boss Mustapha, assured that vaccines coming to Nigeria are safe and efficacious. He also noted that while the development of vaccines was a ray of hope and a welcome development, vaccines alone cannot be a solution.
He also offered deep condolences to the families and associates of all those that have lost their lives to the virus, stating the memory of the loss of lives remains sobering and will continue to propel the nation in the battle to overcome the pandemic.