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FG Gives Conditions For Release Of Pfizer/ BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccines To States

The Federal Govern ment has listed con ditions for states to meet before the 100,000 Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine doses expected by the end of January would be released to them. This was contained in a press release signed by the director, Logistics and Health Commodities, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Kubara Daradara, and made available to newsmen at the Press Centre in Port Harcourt. Out of the number, only 1,766 doses have been allocated to Rivers State. The Agency, during a webinar tagged, "Sensitization Meeting with Media Gatekeepers on Covid-19 Vaccine Introduction, at the weekend, said no vaccine would be released to states until facilities such as cold chains were in place. Daradara disclosed that the vaccine must be administered within five days of receipt for it to remain potent, adding that only the state that show commitment would receive the doses when made available. According to her, the 100,000 doses would be administered to 50,000 people, because each person has to take a second dose 21 days after taking the first, while also giving details of how the first batch of Covid-19 vaccine doses would be distributed across states. According to the programme manager, National Emergency Routine Immunisation Coordination Centre (NPHCDA), Bassey Okposen, the country would receive 100,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the end of January 2021. Okposen, who stood in for the executive director of the NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib, during his presentation at the webinar, said the vaccines would be administered around the last week of January or early February. He explained further that states with higher percentage of confirmed cases would be given additional doses, while frontline health workers would be prioritized, and other batches administered to the elderly and vulnerable persons with co-morbidities based on the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. "We have other sources of vaccine that are non-mRNA, like the COVAX vaccine. The country and other stakeholders are working towards how they can get additional vaccines from the other countries like Russia and USA, Okposen said. "We want to assure all Nigerians that the vaccines are safe and effective. The vaccine will be introduced in four phases and this is due to the availability and quantity of the vaccine that will come in at any given time. "When the vaccine arrives, in the plan, there's going to be the prioritisation of persons to be given the vaccination so as to optimise the available resources and vaccines that will be received and this will be based on global best practices. "In the first priority when the limited doses would first come in towards the end of this month and early February, will be the frontline health workers like immigration, airport police and military on essential duties, those working in the lab and other medical practitioners. "Those states with higher number of cases will be given additional doses. We have mapped out the health workers in each state and locations where these vaccines will be deployed as soon as received. All the states in the country have cases and we need to get the vaccine to them all if we want to achieve hard immunity. In a data shared by NPHCDA, Kano, Lagos, Kastina, Kaduna, Bauchi, Oyo and Rivers would receive higher doses for health workers. The data placed that the total number of doses to be administered in the first phase/ batch at 48, 786. It is, however, not clear what the Federal Government plans to do with the remaining 2,428 doses of the vaccine, out of the total of 100,000 expected by the end of this month. According to Okposen, the Federal Government intends to administer the vaccine to, at least, 40 per cent of Nigerians in 2021, and another 30 per cent in 2022.

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