Nigeria’s Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (L) receives his first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria on March 6, 2021. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) on Thursday, reassured Nigerians of the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaibu, gave the assurance when Mr David Anyaele, Executive Director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), visited the agency in Abuja.
Represented by Dr Bassey O. Bassey, Director, Disease Control and Immunization, NPHCDA, Shuaibu urged Nigerians to erase misconceptions about COVID-19 vaccines and ensure they were vaccinated against the virus.
While pledging the agency’s commitment to ensure inclusive healthcare for People with Disabilities (PWDs) in the country, Bassey tasked Nigerians to have confidence in the system and take advantage of the available doses of the vaccines.
According to him, the vaccination helps people to develop immunity that can fight the COVID-19 virus.
Shuaibu reiterated the agency’s commitment to give priority attention to persons living with disabilities in efforts to ensure that all Nigerians have equal access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to him, the agency has directed all its vaccination centres to give priority to disabled persons, saying “If they are on the line, we can’t keep them waiting”.
“I encourage every Nigerian to have confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines, it’s critical in tackling the virus.
“We encourage you to have confidence in the system.
“Nigeria is the only African country that the first phase of vaccine to Africa did not expire.
“There is no other African country, the least of them was 90, 000 doses, some 92, 900 doses that expired, some up to 600,000 and some 800,000 doses.
“But in Nigeria on July 8, the last dose of vaccine was used at Lagos island maternity because we can track and know on daily basis when it was remaining 5000 doses to 3000 doses to 160 and to the last dose that was used.
“We can track the vaccines to be sure that what goes to Nigerians are genuine vaccines and if you watch, it is the only vaccine that we have not given access to people to bring into the country so that they won’t bring what is fake.
“And anything that comes into this country stays about five to seven days in National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and they do their special final analysis to be sure that this is what we are expecting.
“So, you can be proud of your country that at least for once we are getting it right doing something.
“The second phase of vaccination that is ongoing now, we have assured the world that none of the vaccines we have received will expire on us as a country.
“And it is because of the performance in the first phase that we are even having the privileges of receiving the vaccines we are receiving at this moment.
“Let Nigerians know that COVID is real.”
According to him, a late diagnosis of the virus may lead to death.
“In the last three weeks in the University of Ibadan alone, we have three professors.
“Before the Edo state governor took the decision he took, within a week he lost 20 of his close friends.
“People just wait until it happens to them when there is a way out.
“It is to reassure you that the vaccines we are using in Nigeria are very safe.
“I don’t know what the rumour mongers gain in saying what they say about the vaccines.
“As a medical practitioner for more than three decades, I can confirm to you that what we have is very good and safe for Nigerians,’’ he emphasised.
Earlier, Anyaele urged the agency to intensify efforts toward providing inclusive healthcare for PWDs in the country.
He expressed worry that communication, physical and institutional barriers still hinder PWDs access to primary healthcare services and called for policy action and strategies to address the gaps, including access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
According to him, PWDs have continued to witness discrimination, exclusion, denial of priority in the public space and subjected to various physical, structural, communication and institutional barriers in accessing COVID-19 vaccines.