The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said over half of the country’s eligible population is, at least, partially vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The executive director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib said this during the handover ceremony of 22 sterling freezers donated by United Parcel Service (UPS) Foundation, yesterday (October 19, 2022) in Abuja.
Shuaib revealed that 58,075,837 people representing 52 per cent of Nigeria’s eligible population have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines, while 45,351,331 have been fully vaccinated, which represents 40.6 per cent of the eligible population.
“Making this remarkable progress amidst persistent disinformation and low-risk perception has been possible because of the significant support we have received from our development partners, including UPS.
“We cherish our partnership with UPS and will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure that Nigeria meets its target of vaccinating half of its overall population against COVID-19.
“As our country moves rapidly towards herd immunity, it is my firm belief that no country in the world is safe from COVID-19 and no business entity is safe from its adversities until all of us are safe,” he explained.
The NPHCDA said that the agency’s SCALES 3.0 campaign strategy offers a unique opportunity for childhood vaccination and other PHC services for beneficiaries concurrently with COVID-19 vaccination.
“We, therefore, urge parents to take their eligible children for vaccination against polio, yellow fever, measles and other vaccine-preventable childhood diseases in the same locations where the adults also receive COVID-19 vaccines.
“Our mobile teams are also in possession of all these vaccines when they visit your homes. Please, welcome them and present yourselves and your eligible children for vaccination as may be applicable,” he explained.
Earlier, the managing director, UPS, Mr. Michael Udoh said that the donation of the 22 portable ultra-low temperature freezers is to support the country’s cold chain system.
Udoh expressed UPS’ gratitude to the government of Nigeria for the partnership in delivering vaccines to the last mile.
He also said that the donation was part of the UPS corporate social responsibility “to support countries and communities we do business with”.
Meanwhile, Head of UPS Africa, Mr. Bassy Amati said the century-old global shipping and logistics company started in Nigeria in 1994 – almost two decades ago.
Amati stated that the donation was a reflection of true friendship that was built and would continue to rest on trust and confidence.
He said that the COVID-19 vaccines delivered with 99.9 per cent on-time performance to100s of countries support the ongoing fight against the global pandemic.
“UPSers have been essential in the fight against COVID-19, delivering equitable access to critical healthcare services,” he stated.
Science Nigeria reports that the underlying problem in vaccine chain distribution is a lack of infrastructure, particularly transportation systems and vaccination sites that can maintain the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at the ultra-cold temperatures they require to remain effective and safe.
The main method for keeping vaccines cold in outlying areas is dry ice, which has to be constantly replaced; yet, is in critically short supply in some areas across the country.
The lack of permanent storage facilities in those locations exacerbates the problem, most vaccines and other medications require some type of refrigeration, but the development of vaccines based on mRNA technology created the need for much colder environments for stability, as low as -940 Fahrenheit.
The lack of a cold chain in those areas extends throughout the shipment and delivery process of vaccines. But the 22 portable ultra-low temperature freezers will turn into success stories that can serve as guidance for administering the vaccines in hard-to-reach areas across the country.
Also, some public health experts have enlightened that the true long-term solution, is to create vaccine-manufacturing capability in the country, coupled with ultracold storage capability, rather than rely on shipments from developed countries.
The plans, they said, presents a whole other set of challenges. “If we’re not talking about having the power to even vaccinate the masses, trying to set up power for a manufacturing facility is even more of an undertaking”.