Here’s how Nigeria plans to roll out vaccines in coming days
A total of 3,924,000 doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in Nigeria on Tuesday from the global initiative for equitable vaccine distribution, COVAX, following weeks of anticipation that it would arrive by February end.
The consignment welcomed by top health officials at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja makes Nigeria the third African country to take delivery of COVAX free jabs, after Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Ahead of the vaccine rollout, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has mapped out regulatory and standard monitoring activities.
It has also come up with a draft of who gets what in specific ages of the population and when they get it. But the amount going to states is yet to be revealed.
According to a statement released on Tuesday by Faisal Shuaib, NPHCDA executive director/CEO, here is a sequence of how things will unfold.
NAFDAC analysis of vaccines, March 3-4
Over these two days, a few bottles of the vaccines will be analysed by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) for clearance. This comes as a fast track of a process that would usually have taken months.
Some of the groundwork for this had been set earlier in February, when the agency approved use of AstraZeneca vaccines in Nigeria, following the World Health Organisation authorisation of emergency use.
The agency used the vaccine data received to evaluate safety and efficacy.
Vaccination kicks off Friday, March 5
Following NAFDAC’s due diligence, the first jabs in the arms of frontline health workers and support staff will commence at the National Hospital, Abuja, where the first vaccination site will be set up.
“These staff 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,” Shuaib said.
Additional sites in Abuja by March 8
More vaccination sites would have been set up at designated locations such as the National Assembly Clinic, State House Clinic and Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, where political leaders, from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to Senate president, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Attorney General of the Federation, Inspector General of Police, ministers, senators, House of Representatives members, traditional leaders, and religious leaders would be vaccinated.
Roll-out to states follow, but no dates indicated
Vaccine distribution to the states for the first phase of vaccination will follow after March 8, although the exact date is not specified. The phase will involve 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 health facilities, and adequate security during transportation and at vaccination sites.
They also must have completed training of health workers, have efficient mobilisation structures in place, and adherence to the protocol for vaccine deployment.
CACOVID to offer airlift
Plans are in motion with the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) to provide cargo planes for airlifting the vaccines to the states. States without a functional airport will have their vaccines transported by road from the nearest airport using vans with fitted cold cabins.
The vaccines will be stored at the state cold storages, from where they will be transferred by road to cold stores in local government areas.
Once activities have commenced in the states, there would be strict monitoring by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Federal Ministry of Health, NPHCDA and independent bodies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Directorate of State Security (DSS), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and civil society organisations. States, health facilities and health workers that are identified to be defaulting from the standard protocol and guidelines for this phase of vaccination would be sanctioned.
Roadmap for phase 2 of vaccination
The next phase of the vaccination, which involves giving jabs to the elderly from 50 years upward, will begin once the next batch of vaccines arrives.
Those in the age bracket of 60 and more will get vaccinated before those between 50 and 59 in all states.
Those eligible for vaccination but not registered online would be assisted at the designated health facility and vaccinated.
This phase brings vaccination to those from 18 -49 years old, who are with co-morbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, lung diseases, heart diseases, liver or renal issues.
Here, the rest of the eligible population between the ages 18 to 49 will be catered to. Pregnant women will be evaluated by their health providers to weigh the benefits and risks to them before a decision is taken to vaccinate.