The Nigerian government yesterday received over three million doses of Johnson and Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Italian government.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, who received the donation, said it reflects the sincerity and commitment of the Italian government and European delegates to the global effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, so that the nations of the world can return to their normal way of life.
He assured that the vaccines “like all other vaccines that we have in the country will be used judiciously as we have introduced accountability in the COVID-19 vaccination program to ensure efficient use of all available resources. Also, let me reiterate the fact that we have sufficient supplies of COVID-19 vaccines in all states for every eligible person in Nigeria and to reassure all Nigerians, our donors and partners that we are committed to a just and effective vaccination against COVID-19.
“I therefore urge everyone aged 18 and over, including pregnant women and nursing mothers, to take advantage of the availability of these vaccines to get vaccinated. All COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria are free, safe, effective and protect you, your family and your community against COVID-19.” he said.
Shuaib announced that as of yesterday, Nigeria has fully vaccinated 13,588,718 people, which is approximately 12.2 percent of its total eligible population.
“To date, 23,012,700 Nigerians have received their first dose, representing 18% of the total eligible population. We have also increased our technical support to states to increase immunization coverage.
“We are currently assisting the states in finalizing their microplans, which we believe will further increase accountability in the use and management of available resources and increase adoption based on locally acceptable methods and standards.”
To ensure Nigeria fully leverages the COVID-19 immunization program to strengthen the primary health care system by using routine vaccinations as an entry point, Shuaib said it has a strategic approach to COVID-19 vaccine delivery known as the streamlined one Strategy LIBRA 2.0.
He explained that the approach involved integrating COVID-19 vaccines into the current implementation of the national immunization program
“This means parents and carers with children or wards aged zero to two are encouraged to bring their children to the COVID-19 Vaccine Center where vaccines for children are available. While the adult receives COVID-19 vaccines, the children are screened for the antigen they are due for and vaccinated.”
“This way the vaccination exercise becomes more family-friendly. We believe this will further motivate eligible individuals, including pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” said Dr. Shuaib.
He urged all eligible Nigerians who are yet to be vaccinated or who are due for their second or booster dose to take advantage of current opportunities to obtain their COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) country representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Mulombo, the Italian government has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 response through the funding and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility.
“This donation is another remarkable example of global solidarity working to end this pandemic. WHO, as a key partner, would like to thank the Italian government for this great contribution,” said Dr. Mulombo.
He noted that vaccination is still the best defense against COVID-19 and that WHO will continue to see mass vaccination campaigns yield results.
“The donated vaccines will go a long way towards promoting the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination in the country. WHO and its partners will continue to lead and manage the COVAX pillar of ACT-Accelerator, providing end-to-end integrated support for global immunization goals.
Similarly, UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Dr. Peter Hawkins that Johnson and Johnson’s vaccines would help promote vaccination in Nigeria.
For her part, European Union Ambassador to Nigeria Samuela Isopi said more donations would soon achieve a squeaky vaccine.
She praised the Italian government for the good gesture.
“The EU’s response to COVID-19 does not stop at its borders. Since 2021, the EU and its Member States, as Team Europe, have delivered more than 20 million doses of COVID-19 to Nigeria through COVAX Principles of solidarity and multilateralism, we can overcome COVID-19 together. Today’s donation supports Team Europe’s contribution to a resilient and healthy population because we understand that health is central to the development of any country.”
Italian Ambassador to Nigeria Stefano De Leo, who made the donation, said working through multilateral platforms was efficient and highlighted the efforts of Team Europe, which has pledged to donate 700 million doses worldwide by mid-2022 .
“Italy remains committed, along with other members of the European Union, to support Nigeria’s vaccine needs with the goal of helping expand global immunization coverage. The provision of single-shot vaccines reduces logistical challenges and ensures faster achievement of the Nigerian government’s immunization targets.”
In February, the Nigerian federal government, through the Federal Department of Health and NPHCDA, formally rolled out the administration of the J&J vaccine across the country.
The EU and its Member States are the world’s largest donors of COVID-19 vaccines to date, sharing over 500 million doses for donation to countries around the world through COVAX and bilaterally.
Italy has committed USD 470 million to the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (Gavi COVAX AMC), providing additional specific funding and doses for priority countries.