UNICEF: $298m used to procure J&J COVID-19 vaccines

From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, disclosed on Tuesday, that 298 million dollars was used by Nigerian government to procure 30 million doses of Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

He stated that over 60 million COVID-19 vaccines, 40 million doses in 2021 and 20 million in 2022, have been received since February last year when vaccination against COVID-19 began in Nigeria.

Hawkins who spoke at a joint press conference with the Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, in Abuja, commended all stakeholders involved in the fight against COVID-19 for their efforts that heralded the success recorded so far, particularly in vaccination.

He specifically commended the NPHCDA and Federal Government for the fact that no death has been recorded as a result of COVID-19 vaccine, outside the mild reactions associated with immunization, an indication that the vaccine is safe for human use.

He confirmed that sufficient COVID-19 vaccine doses with longer life span have been procured, urging the unvaccinated to take advantage of the availability to get vaccinated and stand a chance against COVID-19.

NPHCDA boss, Dr. Shuaib, in his remarks, disclosed that, as at Tuesday, January 25th, 2022; 14,093,873 eligible persons have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria, while 5,252,406 eligible Nigerians have been fully vaccinated.

“However, these results are not evenly distributed across the states of the federation. Our performance records revealed that Nasarawa, Jigawa, FCT, Ogun and Kwara have remained the top five performing states on COVID-19 vaccine uptake.

“Jigawa and Lagos have, each, vaccinated about 1.5 million eligible population with the first dose, while FCT, Nasarawa, Lagos and Delta are leading on second dose administration with more than 10 per cent of eligible populations in each of the states already vaccinated.”

Dr. Faisal, however, further disclosed that daily COVID-19 vaccination has doubled, rising to 200, 000 doses per day from about 100,000 doses per day last year, expecting a better and improved recorded soon.

The NPHCDA boss further confirmed plans to integrate the campaign against COVID-19 with childhood immunization and other Primary Health Care (PHC) services. “What it simply means is that alongside the COVID-19 vaccines, childhood vaccines would also be available at COVID-19 vaccination sites.”

He, thus, advised parents and guardians with children aged zero to 23 months to take them along to the vaccination sites so they can get vaccines against polio, whooping cough, measles, yellow fever, tetanus, tuberculosis, and other childhood preventable diseases.

“This is to ensure that, while we are trying to control the transmission of COVID-19, we do not neglect other PHC services or even have outbreaks of childhood vaccine preventable diseases,” he said.