The Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, says that Nigeria would “vaccinate 70 per cent of its population and achieve herd immunity by 2023.”
Mustapha, while flagging off the exercise, called on Nigerians to approach the vaccines phase with unity of purpose and understand that nobody was safe until everyone was vaccinated.
He said, “We must believe our government on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines brought to Nigeria, support the planned and systematic roll-out of the vaccines and mobilise our citizens as we move into the states. We must recognise that vaccine hesitancy will impact negatively on our lives and those of our loved ones, if allowed to fester.”
Also, Ehanire said the vaccine was confirmed to have positive results after undergoing assessment by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.
He stressed that Nigerians under 18 years and pregnant women were not eligible to take the vaccine except medically certified to take the jab.
Ehanire stated, “It is a relief and the marking of the start of a tedious but hopeful exercise to see our citizens develop immunity against the virus.
“It is an horrifying one year to follow a gradual increase of the COVID-19 casualties in our country, especially among health workers which was also depleting our human resources.”
He added that the deployment would be in four phases and would align with the planned arrival of vaccines in batches.
He noted that each phase would capture a specific segment of the eligible population to ensure equity in vaccine deployment.
The minister said apart from the frontline health workers, the next prioritised groups are the elderly and vulnerable with pre-existing health conditions.
“All eligible groups must get vaccinated as and when due while the non-eligible groups should respectfully await their turn. The vaccines are more than enough to go round and would be coming in phases. We have taken steps to ensure vaccine security and accountability. But we must also avoid any kind foul play or underground dealing in this exercise to embarrass us.
“These vaccines are our common assets and responsibility of every person to protect them and ensure proper use. I urge citizens to be vigilant and report any foul practice to the security agencies,” Ehanire stated.
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, said 65 centres had been designated as vaccination centres across the FCT.
Nigeria is the third African country to benefit from the COVAX facility after Ghana and Coted’Ivoire.
The COVID-19 vaccines arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja aboard the Boeing 777 300 ER aircraft of Emirates Airline at exactly 11.45am.