Following the expiration of one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 has announced that the country will no longer accept vaccines with short-shelf life as it mounts to undue pressure on health workers to administer them.
The Executive Director/CEO of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuiab, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja, at an emergency media briefing by PSC on COVID-19.
This is even as it has disclosed that over 10 million vaccines with short-shelf life received free of charge have been administered so far in the country.
Recall that the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, on December 8 confirmed the report of the expiration of doses of vaccines supplied to the country.
Shuiab said that over a million of the expired vaccines which had already been withdrawn would be destroyed publicly by the National Agency for Food Drugs and Administration Control (NAFDAC) in line with environmental protocol at a date yet to be decided.
The NPHCDA boss said the decision to destroy the vaccine publicly is to assure Nigerians that there is no intention to use them.
He noted that vaccines are available in all its designated public, private, secondary and tertiary health facilities.
“As of today, the 13th of December 2021, 7,894,068 eligible persons have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria. This represents 7.1% of the eligible population required to be vaccinated.
“The total of fully vaccinated eligible people in Nigeria is 3,969,325 representing 3.6% of eligible population. 496 persons have received their booster doses,” he added.
According to him, “In recent times, we are beginning to see an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases globally due to a new variant called OMICRON.
“Mutation of COVID-19 occurs when the population remains unvaccinated. An unvaccinated community allows the virus an opportunity to thrive, grow and build up more attack mechanisms against our immune system.
“In Nigeria, we are now beginning to see an increased number of cases due to the fact that most of our eligible population have not presented themselves for vaccination. With increasing travels and interaction these ember months, the virus is still thriving and spreading within the communities because our eligible population have remained unvaccinated,” he added.
Shuaib noted that the COVID-19 is unable to replicate and cannot survive for long in a vaccinated individual.
“Our unvaccinated eligible population are therefore providing an environment for the virus to thrive and mutate.
“We have worked assiduously to ensure that a vaccination centre is located near your home, your workplace, your school, your religious centre and at the market/shopping mall.
“This is to ensure our eligible population have easy access to the vaccines. The jabs are available, Nigerians need to avail themselves to protect not just themselves but their loved ones and their communities,” he explained.
He disclosed that on December 10, 2021, the agency introduced the Pfizer Bio-N-Tech vaccine for administration as booster doses.
“Booster doses are doses of a vaccine given to fully vaccinated individuals to help maintain their level of immunity for longer. All eligible persons who have received two doses of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine, are eligible for a booster dose of Pfizer, 6 months after taking the 2nd dose of either of these vaccines.
“The booster dose can be taken in any vaccination site free of charge. No new registration is required to get booster dose. All eligible persons should kindly visit their vaccination site with their vaccination cards to receive their shot.
“Individuals who receive the booster dose will have greater immune response to COVID-19 infection and enjoy greater protection against COVID-19,” he urged.
Meanwhile, he noted that the joint Task Force on COVID-19 vaccine Monitoring and Accountability is present in all states and local Government Areas across the country and is working in a variety of ways to ensure that the vaccination exercise is secured against fraudulent and criminal activities.
“We are aware that fake PCR tests and vaccination cards are now a global phenomenon. We have therefore strengthened the card validation process on our EMID platform to further guard against card forgery.