The Nigerian government on Monday received about two million doses of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccines from the European Union.
The delivery is part of a pledge by the European Union to distribute vaccines to some developing countries.
Speaking at the handover ceremony in Abuja, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, said Nigeria had in 2021 procured 39,850,000 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine from the AFREXIM Bank through the African Union.
Mr Shuaib noted that with the donation of two million doses by the EU, the total doses of the brand of vaccines available in Nigeria is about 51 million.
He said: “At the moment, Nigeria currently has in-country 12,916,450 doses of the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.
“On behalf of the federal government of Nigeria, I want to sincerely appreciate the European Union for your continued partnership in development.
“We have no doubt about the commitment of the European Union to the eradication of COVID-19 from Nigeria and the rest of the world. The onus is upon us to make rational and effective use of the vaccines,” he said.
Johnson and Johnson vaccines
Mr Shuaib explained that the J&J vaccines will be channeled to those in hard-to-reach locations such as riverine areas, desert areas and security-compromised areas.
“This is because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only a single dose for full vaccination. This way our health workers will be able to do what is called a ‘touch and go’ without compromising their safety,” he said.
He said Nigeria is committed to a safe, equitable, and effective COVID-19 vaccination programme, noting that the availability of different vaccine brands does not in any way mean that some categories of people are selected for high-quality vaccines while others are targeted for low-quality ones.
“All COVID-19 vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) are safe and can deliver adequate protection against the disease,” he said.
“While choice of vaccine is left for eligible persons to make, it is important to note that no particular vaccine brand is preferable to the other,” he added.
Samuela Isopi, the EU ambassador to Nigeria, said the two million doses were “part of a global donation of almost 20 million J&J doses from EU member states to Nigeria.
Mr Isopi said more vaccines would arrive in the coming weeks.
He explained that the EU is supporting the Africa region where vaccination is lower than other parts of the world.
“As we head into the third year since COVID-19 outbreak, the pandemic is not yet defeated.
“We must continue to work together, help partner countries to speed up vaccinations and to develop the capacity to manufacture vaccines locally,” he said
Vaccination so far
Mr Shuaib said Nigeria has successfully vaccinated 15,792,392 persons representing 14.1 per cent of the eligible population, with the first dose.
He said the government is using the COVID-19 vaccination platform to make vaccines accessible in other primary healthcare interventions.
He said the immunisation agency has been engaging with the poor performing states to identify areas where they would require more support and to also help in identifying areas where they can improve in order to ramp up their vaccination coverage.
He appealed to all eligible Nigerians who are yet to be vaccinated to avail themselves of current opportunities to receive their COVID-19 vaccines.
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