The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) on Wednesday dispelled fears that people might not want to be vaccinated against COVID-19, noting that up to 2.3m Nigerians have indicated interest in taking the jabs.
Although, there are fears over the safety of the vaccines, the Executive Director of NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib, said there was enthusiasm in Nigeria over Monday’s arrival of 4 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 jabs..
He said :“I can tell you that there is a lot of excitement about the vaccine arrival. I know some people have their concerns and we are trying but I want to give you an example of the enthusiasm that Nigerians are showing around wanting to take these vaccines.
“Around midday on Monday when we launched the e-registration platform, in less than 24 hours, we already had up to 2.3m Nigerians who had registered. And that number continues to increase.”
Shuaib spoke during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
While the arrival of the first batch of vaccines was a major boost in Nigeria’s fight against the pandemic, Dr Faisal said there was still much work to be done.
“So, we take that very seriously and this is why we are going to be working very hard,” he added. “Yes, the vaccines are here, but there is even harder work that needs to go on to make sure that we deliver the vaccines into the arms of Nigerians in a way that is respectful, in a way that is stress-free”, he said.
He explained that the agency has put plans in place for the rollout of the vaccine and that it is only waiting for the approval of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
“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 said.
The NPHCDA boss also dismissed rumours that the vaccines have been allotted to the high and mighty in the society, maintaining that frontline health workers and those exposed to the virus will be given priority in the administration of the jabs.
“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,” Dr Faisal maintained.
“Mr Vice President has also added his voice and the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force has communicated this in 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 group 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 first.
“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”, he explained.
Aside from health workers, he noted that some leaders will be vaccinated. This, he said, will convince more Nigerians to take the shots.
“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 noted.