The National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, said, yesterday, that at least 2.3 million Nigerians have indicated interest to take the COVID-19 vaccines, dispelling fears that people may not want to be vaccinated. It would be recalled that Nigeria received the first batch of 3.9 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines on Tuesday. Although there are fears over the safety of the vaccines, Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, who spoke in an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said there was enthusiasm in Nigeria over the arrival of the vaccines.
He said: “I can tell you that there is a lot of excitement about the vaccine arrival. I know some people have their concerns and we are trying but I want to give you an example of the enthusiasm that Nigerians are showing around, wanting to take these vaccines.
“Around midday on Monday when we launched the e-registration platform, in less than 24 hours, we already had up to 2.3m Nigerians, who had registered. And that number continues to increase.” While the arrival of the first batch of vaccines is a major boost in Nigeria’s fight against the disease, which has been contracted by over 150,000 people in the nation, Faisal said there was still much work to be done. “So, we take that very seriously and this is why we are going to be working very hard. Yes, the vaccines are here, but there is even harder work that needs to go on to make sure we deliver the vaccines into the arms of Nigerians in a way that is respectful, in a way that is stress-free,’’ he said.
He explained that the agency had put plans in place for the rollout of the vaccine, adding that it was only waiting for the approval of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC.
The NPHCDA boss also dismissed rumours that the vaccines had been allotted to the high and mighty in the society, maintaining that frontline health workers and those exposed to the virus would be given priority in the administration of the jabs. He said: “I will tell you categorically that we have not allotted these vaccines to the rich people or to the people in the urban areas, absolutely not. Mr President has been very clear on this. “Mr Vice President has also added his voice and the chairman of the Presidential Task Force has communicated this in the Presidential Task Force media briefings.
“On Friday, we are going to be launching the vaccines, we are going to be rolling them out at the treatment centres at the national hospital. Our priority will be the health workers that are frontline. We are going to be giving these vaccines to first responders,’’ Dr. Faisal said. Aside from health workers, he noted that some leaders will be vaccinated to convince more Nigerians to take the shots. He said: “We are going to be looking at those strategic leaders like Mr President and the Vice-President, those people who will also want to take the vaccines publicly, so they can motivate the followers to take the vaccines, to convince them that the vaccines are very safe.”
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