COVID-19: NPHCDA deploys Moderna vaccines to 29 states

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), says the Moderna vaccines donated by the U.S. to step up efforts to battle a third wave of the COVID-19 have been deployed to 29 states.

The Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja, at the National COVID-19 vaccines briefing.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the donation was part of President Joe Biden’s promise to give 500 million vaccines to the world by the end of 2022.

The vaccines are brought in through COVAX, the international aid initiative that seeks to ensure global access to vaccines.

Shuaib said it was pertinent to state that the agency could not deploy the vaccines immediately after the NAFDAC certification because, unlike the Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna vaccine did not come with a complete barcoding.

NAN reports that a barcode, consisting of bars and spaces, is a machine-readable representation of numerals and characters.

There are two primary types of barcodes, linear and 2D. Linear and 2D barcodes serve the same purpose, however 2D barcodes can store more information in less area.

The NPHCDA boss said, “this is absolutely needed for us to be able to track and trace the vaccines. Nigeria was the first country to use track and trace, to monitor the movement and utilisation of the vaccine.

“At every point in time, we know where each vaccine vial is in the country. This takes a lot of time as it entails careful packaging, serialisation and follow up to the end user.’’

He said that any state the agency was sending the vaccines to was fully ready to receive them.

“Readiness here means that the state’s ultra-cold chain equipment is fully functional and able to store the vaccines at the required temperatures. Also, the states must have back-up storage facilities such as walk-in cold room, walk-in freezer or chest freezers with reliable 24-hour power supply.

“Additionally, we require that the states have trained health care workers who will monitor the equipment and the vaccines.

“Now that the vaccines are in the states, we are counting on our governors to continue to provide the needed oversight and resources to ensure that these vaccines are secured and maintained in the required temperatures and that all eligible persons are mobilised to access the vaccines to protect themselves, their families and their communities against COVID-19,” he urged.

Shuaib said that for Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is a single dose, using the Geographical Information System (GIS) the agency had mapped out the hard-to-reach areas across all states, such as security-compromised, riverine, nomadic and border settlements, where these vaccines would be deployed for targeted vaccination.

“The reason for targeting these areas with the Johnson & Johnson is because of geographical constraints that make it difficult to reach the dwellers with the second dose after the first contact. Secondly, it removes the additional logistic cost for going to these communities twice.

“We have developed the necessary protocols to guide the states and ensure compliance with the distribution guideline for the vaccine,” he said.

According to him, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be used as the second dose for those who received their first dose during the first phase to ensure they are fully vaccinated.

“Consequently, the administration of AstraZeneca vaccine will commence on Aug. 25, and will close Sept. 5,” he said.

He, therefore, urged all those who received their first dose prior to July 8, to visit a designated vaccination site from Aug. 25 to Sept.5, to receive their second dose and become fully protected against virus.

He noted that as the country received more supplies, it would then open it up for those who might wish to take their first dose.

Shuaib said that the initiatives the agency had introduced in the second phase of the vaccination rollout and subsequent phases was the Primary Healthcare services Integration (PSI), also known as the “whole of family” approach.

“This means that when you visit a health facility for your COVID-19 vaccination, you will be given health talks to improve your knowledge of the vaccine and vaccination and if you are 40 years and above, you will have the opportunity to check your blood pressure and be assessed for the risk of diabetes.

“Similarly, children aged zero to 12 months will be screened for malnutrition and vaccinated against childhood diseases such as measles, yellow fever, hepatitis and polio. If you need further medical attention, you will be referred to the appropriate hospital for additional analysis and treatment,” he explained.

He called on every person aged 18 years and above, who had not been vaccinated to visit any of the agency’s vaccination sites to receive their first dose of Moderna vaccine.

Also speaking, representative from UNICEF in Nigeria, Dr Peter Hawkins, called on Nigerians to receive the vaccines available in the country, noting that they were all verified to be efficacious.

According to Hawkins, who was represented by Dr Gupta Gagan, of UNICEF, the vaccine can be lifesaving but people will only take on information that they trust.

“There are useful information round COVID-19 vaccines, from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), World Health Organisation (WHO) and NPHCDA websites, where they can get verified information,“ he said.

He said that the healthcare workers should be responsive to citizens when they came for vaccination.

Hawkins called on the over 2.5 million Nigerians who had been vaccinated to mobilise the people in their communities  to go out and be vaccinated.

Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, WHO representative to Nigeria, highlighted the country’s high level preparedness.

Mulombo reiterated the importance of extensive engagement of the media to create sensitisation and get more Nigerians vaccinated.

He, however, underscored that the vaccines approved by both WHO and NAFDAC were safe and effective.

He enjoined Nigerians get vaccinated to reduce transmission of the virus. (NAN)