Ahead of the arrival of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines into the country within the next few weeks, the Federal Government has set a condition that states must fulfil before releasing the vaccines to them.
The Director, Logistics and Health Commodities, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Hajia Kubura Daradara, said on Friday during a webinar hosted by the agency that government would not release the vaccines to the states until the states are ready to administer them.
She explained that states were expected to administer the vaccines within five days to retain their potency and that only states that showed commitment to this would receive the vaccines.
The Federal Government had said the first batch of the vaccines would arrive in the country between the end of January and February 2021, adding that the vaccines to be used in the country would be safe and effective.
It also said the 100,000 doses of the vaccine being expected in the first batch were for 50,000 Nigerians as the vaccines would be taken twice by each person at 21 days interval.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said previously that the country would spend N400bn to procure vaccines for the 70 per cent of Nigerians it planned to vaccinate, amid the rising spread of the virus in the dreaded second wave of the pandemic.
The Senate had on December 21 expressed doubts over the preparedness of the government to effectively store the vaccines upon arrival in the country.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, added, “I have not been convinced with your presentation that we are ready to bring in the vaccines. You have to do much more to convince me that we are ready. This is a matter of life and death. I am not only a doubting Thomas, I am also doubting Ahmad.’’
The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, had also expressed worry over the ability of the government to store the vaccines, saying the government made preparations for only four cold chains for the vaccines, in Abuja, Kano, Enugu and Lagos. He asked why the South-South region was not included in the plan.
He lamented that the vaccine might lose its efficacy on transit to the South-South if no facility was provided. Some other senators also expressed similar fear regarding the storage of the vaccines.
But speaking at the webinar on Friday, Daradara said, “We are not releasing the vaccines to any state until we are sure that they are ready to implement (administer the vaccines). For the transportation of the vaccines, we will use dry ice in insulated thermal containers that are going to be sealed.