Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on Monday explained that due to the ongoing repairs of the cold store facility in Kogi State, it is yet to receive vaccines.
It added that the state is now the only state yet to receive the vaccine as its cold store was vandalised during the ENDSARS protests last year.
The Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, stated these in Abuja, during the briefing of the PTF on COVID-19.
He said, “The AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine has been distributed to all states, except Kogi State. The first phase of our vaccination will focus on frontline health workers and others on essential duties in the next few days. Kogi state was not supplied with the vaccine because their cold store is still under repairs following vandalisation during the ENDSARS protest.
“Similarly, all state governors, apart from Kogi, have launched the vaccination programme in their states. These launches also involve public vaccination of the governors and strategic leaders.
“I want to assure Nigerians that the Federal Government through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 is firmly committed to safe and successful COVID-19 vaccination in the country. No safety and efficacy standard has been compromised in the decision of the government to introduce the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine was approved for emergency use listing by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and was tested and certified safe and effective for use in Nigeria by NAFDAC.
“Our cold chain stores are very efficient to ensure that optimal temperatures are maintained in the distribution of these vaccines through the States and local government areas throughout the country.”
The PTF yesterday added that the apathy to COVID-19 vaccination may only exist on social media, as it has had to deal with large demands from people wanting to get vaccinated.
Stating that over 8,000 Nigerians have been vaccinated so far, it urged people to be patient for their turn to be vaccinated, as only frontline health workers, first responders, essential workers and strategic leaders are being prioritised for this first phase of vaccination.
Shuaib said: “Again, to underscore the confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, as part of the vaccine launch in the states that occurred last week, over 8,000 Nigerians have been administered the vaccine thus far.
“Our challenge with vaccine rollout is that a lot of people want to get the vaccine even when they do not qualify for the first phase of vaccination. We are finding it hard to march that with the fact that there is a lot of vaccine hesitancy on social media.
“Maybe there is a different kind of people that are on social media and a different set of people who are really calling and they want to take vaccines. So, we have had to take the pain to say this is a phased approach.
“People should note that the current vaccinations are for health workers, first responders and strategic leaders. Others will be scheduled according to when they are eligible. We, therefore, urge everyone to be patient for their turn to get vaccinated. Even when you are unable to register online, you will be registered when you get to the site of the vaccination when it is your turn to get vaccinated.”
Also, despite growing global concerns over possible side effects of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the Federal Government yesterday evening maintained it is safe for Nigerians.
National Incident Manager of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Dr. Mukhtar Muhammad, while speaking during the weekly briefing of the task force in Abuja, said clinical trials had shown that side effects are generally mild.
According to Muhammad, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had in the last three days, through series of briefings, vouched for the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, adding that it had been proven that it has about 70% efficacy level.
He, however, advised those who might have received the vaccine, but who have felt symptoms of its reactions for about 24 hours, to report it through the right channels at the state level.
“The arrival of the vaccines is something that is very good and exciting for the response in the sense that a combination of the vaccines and the non-pharmaceutical interventions can help us see the light at the end of the tunnel within a very short period of time. However, we have suffered a major setback in the last few hours, regarding the content safety and efficacy of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.
“We have seen in the news how some countries have deferred the usage of this vaccine or have suspended its use. That list of the European countries is growing. However, it is very reassuring to see that the regulatory agencies in those countries have continued to emphasise that the vaccine is safe and that the incidence of blood clots reported in the patients is not higher than the risk of blood clotting in people who are not vaccinated. So that is really something reassuring.”