BY PATIENCE IVIE IHEJIRIKA, Abuja
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) will tomorrow launch its COVID-19 vaccination exercise for residents of the territory.
The acting secretary, FCT Health and Human Services Secretariat (HHSS), Dr Mohammed Kawu, who disclosed this in a telephone interview with LEADERSHIP Sunday in Abuja, added that during the launch, the administration would unveil the 65 locations for the vaccine in the FCT.
Mohammad Ohitoto, the head, public relations unit of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) also told our correspondent that the agency did not have the details of the centres and that the FCT health authorities would later give details of designated vaccination centres in the territory.
Kawu added that as at now, no vaccination exercise on COVID-19 is taking place in any of the designated centres until after the flag-off the exercise which is expected to take place this week.
“As of now, the FCT and the 36 states are yet to launch their own versions of the COVID-19 vaccination exercise. The FCT and other states are expected to launch the exercise on Monday and that is when they will unveil the locations of the centres, including the designated 65 centres in the FCT. As we speak, no COVID-19 vaccination exercise is taking place any of the centres in the FCT, until after the launch of the exercise on Monday this week,” he said.
He added that the launch of the vaccine which took place at the National Hospital, Abuja at the weekend was the federal government’s version of the exercise which would be replicated by the FCT and the 36 states in the following week.
FG Denies Budgeting N10bn For Vaccine Distribution—NPHCDA
The federal government has dismissed insinuations that it budgeted N10.6 billion to transport COVID-19 vaccines to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, said after President Muhammadu Buhari and with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo received the first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Abuja yesterday that the private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) had already undertaken to distribute the vaccines to states at no cost on the government.
He said: “I mean, I’m hearing this from you for the first time. It doesn’t make any sense that on the one hand, we’ve communicated very clearly to Nigerians that the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), a private sector initiative, has provided a cargo plane that will help deliver the vaccines from Abuja to all states that have functional airports.
“For those that do not have functional airports, there are delivery vans that will convey the vaccines from those airports to the states without functionality.
“I do not see how that is going to cost N10 billion, so there is no truth in that information. The truth is what I have told you, which is that CACOVID has taken up the responsibility of delivering the vaccines from Abuja to the states.
“The only cost we’re going to incur is the cost of delivering the vaccines from any airport to nearby states that don’t have functional airports. Clearly that cannot be N10.6 billion.”
When asked on the actual cost, he replied; “You can do the Mathematics on the back of an envelope and you know that it cannot be anything close to a billion naira, right?
“So, I believe that CACOVID has already identified that cost as something they are going to take off. I do not know how much it’s going to cost them, but that is something that they have already identified as a cost they will bear and we’re working together with them.
“It is not correct to say that the federal government is going to expend N10.6 billion to transport vaccines to the states, that is incredulous.”
On the latest development on the 100,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine, the NPHCDA head said: “What happened was that there was a committee that met at global level and took the decision that it made more sense for Nigeria to get 16 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine rather than 100,000 doses of Pfizer.
“A hundred thousand doses of Pfizer is a drop in the ocean and given that the AstraZeneca vaccine is more suited to our cold chain environment, from +2 to +8 °C.
“Not only do we have the necessary cold chain equipment, but also our health workers have the capacity to manage vaccines of that temperature. So, it just makes sense that we should get vaccines that are more suited to Nigeria.”
No Side Effect On PMB, Osinbajo After Vaccination—Presidency
The Presidency has dispelled fears and misconceptions about the safety of the vaccine administered on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) early yesterday.
After he got his jab, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, said the president felt normal and went about doing his job.
“If there are side effects that follow, we will be open about that but so far there is nothing of a side effect, serious or mild on the president. He is carrying on as normal. We hope this will help to send a strong message among the people, especially those grappling with hesitancy about the efficacy and safety of the vaccine,” he said.
ECOWAS Recommends Compensation For Vaccine Side Effects, Injuries
The vaccine taskforce of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has recommended compensation for citizens who suffer side effects or injury from the COVID-19 vaccination.
Prof. Stanley Okolo, the Director-General of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) disclosed this at the 5th Regional Steering Committee meeting of the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement (REDISSE) project in Abuja yesterday.
Okolo said the recommendation was one of the resolutions adopted by the taskforce and presented to the ECOWAS Ministerial Coordinating Committee to encourage citizens to receive the vaccine.
He said during the REDISSE virtual meeting that the issue of indemnity was being taken up by the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, the global initiative aimed at equitable access to the vaccine led by Vaccine Alliance, World Health Organisation and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, among others.
The WAHO chief said: “Normally, vaccine development takes five years or even seven, or eight years. Now therefore, we have to think of how to share the indemnity in terms of if any problem develops.
“That is one of the issues now being taken up by COVAX, the global body set up by WHO and GAVI to look at how they indemnify some of the companies regarding the vaccines they supplied.
“It is not so much as indemnifying but making sure there are reasoned claims against the companies. In addition, member countries, whether in Africa, West Africa, Europe or Asia, have to think about the supplementary or residual indemnity for their people and that’s one of the things the ECOWAS vaccines taskforce is discussing.
“We have already shared the issue with the 5th Ministerial Coordinating Committee and one of the resolutions is that member countries should watch out for any significant side effect or injury.
“We haven’t seen that yet in countries that are vaccinated widely, but member states should look to compensate affected citizens.”
Okolo said the objective of the regional steering committee meeting was to assess the implementation of the REDISSE project, evaluate progress achieved toward meeting the objectives, and make recommendations for enhanced implementation for greater results.
According to him, the implementation of the recommendations of the last regional steering committee meeting held in Lome on Nov. 2, 2019 will be assessed.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some participants attended the meeting virtually due to the current surge of COVID-19 and the recent Ebola outbreak in Guinea.
The meeting took the form of a short presentation of the technical committee’s report, followed by discussions, summaries and recommendations, chaired by the WAHO director general.