As the scare of second wave of COVID-19 heightens, the Federal Government as assured that vaccine will be administered on over 40 million Nigerians free of charge when vaccination begins.
National coordinator, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF), Sani Aliyu, who made the disclosure, yesterday, said this would be done through the GAVI arrangement.
Speaking on a live television station, he said: “Yesterday (Tuesday), the president gave the PTF the mandate to proceed with preparations with regard to the vaccine. The president has also given us a marching order that the COVID-19 vaccine be available in Nigeria.
“We already have assurance that 20 percent of our population will be accommodated by GAVI in the vaccine. We don’t need to pay for that and this will cover 40 million Nigerians or so. But, we have to pay for the operations and the logistics associated with it.”
Aliyu also said there were plans to buy additional vaccines besides the GAVI arrangement.
“We are also planning to pay for an additional 20 to 40 percent. In general, over the next two years, at least, 70 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated before we can have enough immunity.
“The Pfizer vaccine is one of the most effective vaccines at the moment.”
The PTF national coordinator advised Nigerians not to discard safety measures already in place just because of the vaccine.
“Just to make it clear to the general public, even if we have the vaccine available tomorrow in Nigeria, the epidemic will not change,” he said.
“We still need to apply the protective measures we have been advising right from beginning. Vaccines alone will not change it. If you look at the time it takes the vaccine to take effect, the first dose will take about 12 days to have an anti-body response. The second dose takes a week. In all, it takes a month for one to have adequate immunity.”
Concerning the distribution of the vaccine when it is available, Aliyu said the PTF will make use of primary healthcare facilities that are situated in the secretariats of each of the 774 local governments areas across the country.
He also said primary healthcare facilities will be upgraded to be able to take delivery and preserve the vaccine which requires cold temperature, adding that healthcare workers will also be trained.