No fewer than a 2.3 million Nigerians have registered for COVID-19 vaccination 24 hours after a portal for that purpose was launched, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said on Wednesday.
Through the platform, Nigerians can choose a health facility that is closest to them to get vaccinated and generate a unique pre-vaccination identifier issued via the agency’s website https://nphcdaict.com.ng/publicreg
NPHCDA Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said: “Nigerians are showing enthusiasm about wanting to take the vaccines.”
Shuaib said the vaccination must not be delayed, as that may increase the virus mutation and resistance to vaccines.
He said during an interview on Channels: “The AstraZeneca vaccine was paused in South Africa because it was found from a study that it was not effective against the South African strain (B 1.351) of the COVID-19. But that strain is the dominant strain in South Africa.
“The NCDC, working with other research institutions, has been looking for this strain in Nigeria but has not found it.
“If any passenger coming from South Africa and the United Kingdom is found positive for COVID-19, their sample is further tested through genomic sequencing to find out if this virus strain is in the positive sample.
“What has been found in Nigeria are a few strains of the UK virus. The UK virus is susceptible to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Therefore, we will continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“This underscores the need for us to roll out the vaccination on time because the more we delay the vaccination, the higher the tendency that these viruses will mutate and will become resistant to the vaccine.
“We have made out plans for the rollout of the vaccine, but the next important needed step will be how we will collaborate with the states and the local government areas to make sure that this delivery system is successful and is done very efficiently.
“At this point, we do not have concerns about the efficacy of the vaccine against the strains of the COVID-19 viruses that exist in Nigeria.”
Lagos, Delta, Katsina, Plateau, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Oyo, Anambra, Niger, Kwara, Edo, Imo and Ebonyi were among states that said they were ready for the vaccination.
Their officials spoke with our correspondents in separate interviews.
Delta Commissioner for Health, Dr Ononye Mordi, said the state has 600 facilities for vaccine storage.
He said the state would leverage the system put in place for its immunisation programme, which he described as robust.
Permanent Secretary, Katsina Ministry of Health, Dr Kabir Mustapha, said the state had made adequate preparations to receive the vaccines.
Plateau Commissioner of Health, Dr Ndam Nimkong Lar, said he was on his way to Abuja to take delivery of the vaccine.
Edo has already received its allocation of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, said the vaccine was in the custody of the state government.
He said: “The Edo State Government is in custody of doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines received from the Federal Government for distribution in the state.
“We are preparing a local distribution network for rolling out the vaccines in line with the national plan.”
The Akwa Ibom Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Iniobong Ememobong, said the state has functional cold-chain facilities to store the vaccine.
Oyo Commissioner for Health, Dr Bashir Bello, said: “We have the facilities to store it.”
Executive Secretary of the Kwara Primary Healthcare Agency, Dr Nusirat Elelu, said the state would train health workers ahead of the vaccination exercise.
Anambra Commissioner for Health, Dr Vincent Okpala, said the state immunised over 5.5 million persons for yellow fever recently.
He said: “We are not joking in this state. The facilities are still there. Anambra is the number one state on such matters. We are ready for the vaccine.”
Ogun said it has put the necessary things in place to ensure proper handling of its portion of the vaccine.
Imo said it has installed solar-powered refrigerators in the 305 wards to store the vaccines, according to the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba.
Lagos Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, said the state was fully prepared to receive COVID-19 vaccines in terms of logistics and cold-chain management.
“In terms of storage facilities and rollout, we are ready. We are only waiting for the Federal Government. We already have a committee in place that is preparing the ground for it,” Omotoso said.
Ebonyi Commissioner for Health, Daniel Umezuruike, said the state had also installed solar-powered refrigerators in all the selected primary health care centres in each of the wards.
Director-General of the Cross River Primary Healthcare Management Agency, Dr Janet Ekpeyong, said the state has a functional storage facility in the state capital.