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FG orders NAFDAC, customs to seize unauthorised vaccines,says COVID-19 third wave likely

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..Rules out private sector participation in vaccination

By Abdullahi Mohammed, Abuja
The federal government Monday ordered two of its agencies – the Nigeria Customs Service (NIS) andthe National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) – to seize and destroy unauthorised vaccines in the country. 

Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, announced the directive at a briefing by the Presidential Task Force on Control of COVID-19.The minister ruled out private sector participation in the administration of Nigeria’s allocation of four million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines expected in the country Tuesday morning.

He also raised concern over possible third wave if Nigerians fail to adhere to the non-pharmaceutical measures put in place by the Presidential Task Force.He said all manufacturers of vaccines require an official indemnification to be able to use their product, and the federal government would not sign indemnity for what it cannot defend.

“As the much expected first batch of COVID vaccines from the COVAX facility arrives from Mumbai to Nigeria tomorrow, all plans and arrangements have been finalised to ensure a hitch free rollout of vaccination, including training of health workers, secured logistics and cold chain equipment to receive vaccines in all wards of the federation.


“The vaccines will be received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport and delivered to the National Strategic Cold Store (NSCS), Abuja, where inspection and quality tests will be conducted by NAFDAC and due documentation and certification done.“We shall begin the roll out with the vaccination of frontline health workers who are our first line of defence. Our goal is to introduce the COVID-19 vaccine in a phased and equitable manner, ultimately vaccinating all eligible Nigerians within the next two years to ensure herd immunity.

World Health Organization recommendation is not to vaccinate persons under 18 years of age, until more scientific data is available on any effects on growing children.“The TEACH Strategy of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) for COVID-19 vaccination and the Electronic Management of Immunization Data System was launched today. The innovative strategy will enable a smooth roll out of vaccination and ensure that no beneficiary is left behind.

“It is important to mention that Nigeria is expecting enough vaccines of three types, to cater to our needs, with the option to increase supply if need be. There will, for now, be no need for ungoverned private importation of vaccines.


“Vaccine deployment will be by NPHCDA, till further notice and I can assure all citizens that they are in a position to cater to the needs of all persons, as in the rollout strategy, but also able to respond to institutions, clusters and settings, including closed settings like prisons and IDPs, with deployment of NPHCDA vaccination teams. This is upon application and special arrangements.“All manufacturers of vaccines require an official indemnification to be able to use their product, which Nigeria has provided for the Covax facility. Vaccines from any other sources must first have NAFDAC’s Emergency Use Authorization, and are not covered under the indemnification arrangement.
“Such vaccines will be illegal and therefore subject to be impounded by NAFDAC and Customs.  All vaccines coming into Nigeria will arrive only by the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja. Arrival at any other airport will not be allowed and sure to be confiscated by Customs. It is important to have an orderly, disciplined rollout to avoid chaos in the immunization scene.“I urge all eligible Nigerians to turn up when invited to be vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine. This is the way to achieve our target of herd immunity and end the transmission of this deadly virus.“I again advise that rollout of vaccination does not end or excuse from observing the public health measures. They should be obeyed even more strictly than before, as there is no room for relaxing, even if it seems the infection rate is reducing. There are countries experiencing the third wave, after surviving the second phase, a reason for us to beware.”Also speaking, chairman of the Presidential Task Force and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, said arrival of the vaccines was a ray of hope.
“This development offers a huge ray of hope that comes with its own challenges and responsibilities for all Nigerians. We must all be prepared to take responsibility. “The following facts are germane: The development of vaccines is a ray of hope is a welcome development; Vaccines alone cannot be a solution; Accessing vaccines has been strategic and deliberate; Vaccines coming to Nigeria shall be safe and efficacious; The PTF is coordinating while the Federal Ministry of Health(FMOH), and The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA)are directly implementing using existing infrastructure and skills set; The required Vaccines Strategy Steering Committee has been set up by the HM Health; The administration of vaccines shall be prioritised in a strategic manner beginning with health sector frontline workers and strategic leadership; Over 2021 and 2022, we aim to vaccinate 70 per cent of the population,” he said.
He said the achievement of core objectives behind the germane facts on vaccines shall remain farfetched if Nigerians fail to overcome vaccines hesitancy and scepticism; elite resistance; possible emergence of unauthorised or fake vaccines; collaboration and support from sub-nationals; double registration and fake information; and security.”The last one year has revealed the strength of collaboration and the positive spirit of sacrifice and public service inherent in Nigerians. The unity of purpose demonstrated through the financial, material and technical support have been phenomenal. The successes recorded are directly attributable to the strong support received.”I also wish to publicly acknowledge with thanks, the support of private and public entities including-CACOVID; NNPC, CBN, corporate organisations, the security agencies, all MDAs, airlines, the Armed Forces, etc. Particularly, I wish to make a special mention of all media organisations for communicating the risks and the messages. You have been more than wonderful.”The support of the international community and development partners has proven that their friendship with Nigeria is real, for good times and difficult times. We do not take this for granted.”The frontline workers, particularly the medical personnel are strongly acknowledged. The PTF notes that several frontline workers got infected in their line of duty. Your sacrifices shall, however, never go unrecognized.”Despite the challenges, the PTF swished to commend the National Response as successful.  At inception, the primary aim was to strengthen the health system to withstand this and other pandemics, slow down the spread and minimize the fatalities. We have reasonably achieved these objectives and more. The COVAX Facility is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), with UNICEF as a key implementing partner.The COVAX was launched in April 2020 to help ensure a fairer distribution of coronavirus vaccines between rich and poor nations, said it would deliver two billion doses to its members by the end of 2021.


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COVID-19: Why states were directed to halt vaccination halfway – FG…Says GL 12 and below to continue to work from home

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‘AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson vaccines can’t be combined

By Abdullahi Mohammed, Abuja
The federal government said Tuesday that state governments administering COVID-19 vaccines have been asked to stop the exercise if they use half of the doses allocated to them because the country is not sure when it will receive the second batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine.


This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, at the media briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.

“In a situation where, we still cannot specifically determine when the next batch of AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive, then I think wisdom dictates that, it’s better for us to vaccinate people fully. And so that we can say that we have a pool of citizens that have been fully vaccinated, since this vaccination comes in two doses.“That’s what gave rise to that directive, rather than just going ahead with just single dose when the full dose should be two doses of the same. So we felt that it was proper for us in the circumstance to ensure that those who have been vaccinated have been fully vaccinated”.

In his remarks, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and chairman of the Presidential Task Force, Mr Boss Mustapha, said civil servants on Grade Level 12 and below would continue to work from home because there are certain red flags that need to be interrogated further.

“There are certain interrogations we want to investigate further because there are few red signals that we must deal with before we can communicate to Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, as to when is the appropriate time for them to return.
“Before we take a decision as to when they will return to work, we will have clarity as to where we are in terms of control and vaccinations so that we do not blow the level of successes that we have achieved,” he said.


Also speaking, the Director-General of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said government was investigating the reported blood clotting in some individuals that have taken the first jab of AstraZeneca vaccine.“There’s been ongoing investigations that we’ve all be following on the suspected link between the AstraZeneca vaccines to certain rear experience of blood clotting in individuals in Europe. Those investigations are still ongoing, right. Not all European countries are adopting the vaccines for their populations.

“In Nigeria with every vaccine, we have a parallel system to measure and to monitor any side effects. That is ongoing and is being managed by the National Agency for Food Drugs (NAFDAC) in collaboration with National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and we will continue to monitor patients in Nigeria.


“Every demographic is different, the demographic in taking vaccines in every country is different, the interaction between different drugs people are taking. So there are many circumstances that need to be fully evaluated, we will look at the data ourselves here in Nigeria and, I will take action as needed.

“I think the critical thing to always remember, when you talk about medicines, vaccines and side effects is, never as simple as it might look, they always have to weigh the risk versus the benefits. And once you do that, it becomes immediately obvious that the benefits of these vaccines by far outweigh small risks in individuals.


“The argument against that is always if one person is at risk, the risk in that person is 100%, whether the rest of the population gets it or not, which is true. So which is why we’re obliged to investigate every case that we see and do the best that we can to understand what’s going on,” he said.

Aldo speaking, the Executive Secretary of Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, clarified that the AstraZeneca vaccines and Johnson and Johnson vaccines cannot be taken by the same individual.
“You cannot take the AstraZeneca on your left and Johnson and Johnson on the right. Yeah, so it has to be both doses of AstraZeneca and a single shot of the Johnson and Johnson,” he said.
On the reported side effects of the AstraZeneca, he said: “We have said it here, that there are side effects of these vaccines, side effects of vaccines are not unique to the COVID-19 vaccine. And it is not uncommon for people who take the vaccine to experience mild side effects.


“Once they experience these side effects, the correct thing to do is to report the side effects to the health facility where you got the vaccine. There’s also the safety app that you can download on your phone and report these side effects. The data goes directly to NAFDAC , and we’re following up on these side effects. Anywhere there’s a serious side effect this is investigated to try and establish any causal link between the vaccine and whatever symptoms or sign the client has shown.

“So one thing that we continue to tell vaccinators is that even before people take the vaccines, they should be educated on the potential side effects. For those of you who have kids, when you take your kids to the health facility for vaccination, I’m sure you’re familiar with the fact that on that day, the kids usually have a mild fever, they might not be able to raise that limb. You know, and they are usually very irritable. These are evidences that the vaccine is actually working. So there is an immune response to the vaccine that has been introduced into the body.”


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COVID-19: FCTA vaccinates journalists to enhance public confidence

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By  Muhammad Tanimu

Abuja

The Federal Capital Terriory Administration (FCTA) on Thursday began the vaccination of members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), FCT Chapter, with a view to enhance public confidence in the vaccine.

The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Bello, who inaugurated the exercise, at the NUJ Secretariat in Utako, said the administration considered it neccessary to vaccinate journalists because they are indeed part of the frontline workers.

Represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Strategic Communications, Malam Abubakar Sani, Bello noted that the vaccination of journalists would serve as living testimonies to some Nigerians who are skeptical about it.

According to the minister, the vaccine is a routine to help boost immune system to protect people from contracting COVID-19 virus.

” We considered it neccessary to initiate this process of vaccinating members of the fourth estate of the realm because journalists are indeed frontline workers.

” The FCT Administration considered the relationship between the NUJ and the administration as a very productive and strong one.

” It is in the realisation of the fact that journalists who report day-to-day activities that are happening in the society are exposed to the dangers of COVID-19.

” Some of them even go to the COVID-19 Treatment and Isolation centres to get testimonies from people infected with the COVID-19 virus,” Bello said.

The Acting Secretary, FCTA Health and Human Services Secretariat, Dr Kawu Mohammed, noted that partnership with media professionals was a collaboration that every service provider required.

Responding, the FCT NUJ Chairman, Mr Emmanuel Ogbeche, said vaccination of journalists would speak more than any advocacy carried out by the government before.

” Because journalists will attest if the vaccines have any side effects, understand what the issues are and give feedback to the public.”

He revealed that over 120 journalists in Abuja registered to take the vaccine, adding that more journalists would be turning out for the exercise.

Ogbeche used the occasion to thank the minister for all his support to FCT NUJ, saying” we hope that together we can fight COVID-19.”

Also, the Chairperson, National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) Anne Daniel, expressesed the readiness of the association to sensitise women on the importance of taking the vaccine.


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Covid-19: Osun begins vaccination of over 800 combined 2020/2021 intending pilgrims

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govt committed to citizens’ healthy living, general well-being, says Home Affairs Commissioner, Lawal

intending pilgrims laud govt on prompt response
Osun Government has disclosed that over 800 intending pilgrims to this year’s Hajj will be vaccinated as part of the requirements for visiting the Holy Land.

The exercise is in compliance with the directive of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) in accordance with the safety guidelines of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).

This is even as the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Hon. Tajudeen Olaniyi Lawal, said the Administration of Governor Adegboyega Oyetola was committed to citizens’ welfare, healthy living, safety and general well-being.

Recall that the leadership of NAHCON had earlier directed all the 36 States’ pilgrims welfare boards, including the FCT and Armed Forces in the country, to urgently give Covid-19 Vaccination to all 2021 Hajj intending pilgrims, so as to meet up with the average of 12 weeks’ interval required for pilgrims to take two rounds of vaccination before the Hajj exercise.

Addressing the registered intending pilgrims during the flag- off of the vaccination exercise at the premises of the State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, State Government Secretariat, Abere, Osogbo, Home Affairs Commissioner, Hon. Tajudeen Lawal said the board had received enough doses to cater for the needs of the intending pilgrims.

He said the Administration of Governor Oyetola would continue to do the needful and would prioritise the people’s welfare as it has been doing since inception.

Lawal who said the State had recorded many successes and received several commendations and accolades for its annual outstanding performance, assured the intending pilgrims of seamless and hitch-free exercise. 

“First and foremost, I have to commend our amiable Governor for his prompt support over the years. He has shown to us that he is a leader, a worthy leader whose passion and love for the welfare and general well-being of the citizens is second to none.

“As you all know, Nigeria and other parts of the world couldn’t perform Hajj last year. We are considering combining registered intending pilgrims for the year 2020 and 2021.

“So far so good, about 800 people have registered and hopefully, all of them would be vaccinated in line with the directive of the NAHCON.

“I am appealing to our people to take this exercise seriously and conduct themselves with topmost Omoluabi ethos whenever they are in the Holy Land because this is what we are known for”, Lawal added.

Addressing the journalists during the exercise, the Secretary, Osun Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mr. Bolaji Sanni, said the exercise was designed to adhere to and fulfill all necessary safety requirements as laid down by the health authorities.

According to him, the intending pilgrims are expected to take two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines before they leave Nigeria for Saudi Arabia.

“This vaccination exercise is in line with the directive of the the NAHCON to vaccinate all the intending pilgrims as part of the necessities for this year’s Hajj.

“Since the Hajj exercise for this year is  expected to commence in June, we are under obligation to carry out the vaccination exercise to meet up with the deadline.

“This first phase of the vaccination exercise will end by April while the second dose will be taken early June as the intending pilgrims are expected to depart Nigeria for Saudi Arabia by the middle of June.

“We are ready to complete the exercise for all of them. Though we have the combined list of 2020 and 2021 running to 800 registered intending pilgrims so far,  some are still registering and we are committed to ensuring that everybody is fairly treated,” Sanni added.

Some of the intending pilgrims that spoke to journalists after being jabbed commended the exercise and the State government for its prompt response to the current health reality.


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