Federal Government has assured Nigerians that the much anticipated COVID-19 vaccines will be administered free when vaccination begins.
National coordinator, presidential taskforce on COVID-19 (PTF), Sani Aliyu made the disclosure on Channel TV’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday.
Aliyu said through the GAVI arrangement, there is the assurance that over 40 million Nigerians will be vaccinated.
GAVI is a vaccine alliance of which bid to find solution to the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic through vaccines birthed COVAX.
COVAX is one of the three pillars of Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) accelerator. It was launched in April by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Commission and France, bringing together governments, manufacturers, scientists, the private sector, philanthropy and the civil society in response to the pandemic and ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccine and treatments when available.
“Yesterday, the president gave the PTF the mandate to proceed with preparations with regard to the vaccine,” Aliyu said.
“The president has also given us a marching order that the COVID-19 vaccine be available in Nigeria.
“Making use of the GAVI arrangement, 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 herd immunity,” he said.
“The Pfizer vaccine is one of the most effective vaccines at the moment.”
When asked if the vaccine would be administered free, Aliyu said, “of course, of course”.
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.
“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 secretariat of each of the 774 local governments areas of Nigeria.
He also said the 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.