COVID-19 vaccination: FG to bear cost of adverse reactions, says minister

Osagie Ehanire

Nigeria’s Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire has said the federal government will bear any cost in the treatment and management of any adverse reactions or side effects that may occur during vaccination against COVID-19.

Nigeria is expected to receive a total of 3.92 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Tuesday, 2nd March 2021.

Ehanire, speaking at the unveiling of the ‘TEACH strategy’ for COVID-19 vaccine introduction in Nigeria and Electronic Management of Immunization Data (EMID), on Monday, noted that the government have signed an “indemnification’, which means that the producer of the vaccines will not be held responsible for whatever the effects are.

He however pointed out that chances of such adverse reactions are rare, even though wide vaccinations of these new vaccines have barely begun in this region.

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“We are dealing with a new vaccine, whose properties are not properly known, we are studying closely what the effects are. The government will cover the cost of handling any adverse or side effects that may arise during the COVID-19 until the affected person is nursed to good health vaccination.

The Minister, who formally launched the TEACH strategies said more vaccines are expected to come in before the 3.92 million vaccines are distributed.

He also warned that vaccines that are not approved by NAFDAC will be determined as dangerous, and will be seized by Customs Services and NAFDAC, who are on high alert for illegal vaccine importation, as “fake vaccines already abound in the illegal market.”

The Minister also informed that the government has received requests from foreign embassies and International Organizations, for vaccination which will all be professionally addressed.

The Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, speaking at the unveiling, explained that under the TEACH strategy, the vaccines will be rolled out in four phases.

He said the target priority group in the first phase will include; Health care workers, frontline workers, workers at ports of entry, military, COVID-19 Rapid Response Team, laboratory network, policemen, petrol station workers and strategic leaders.

In the second phase, he said older adults aged 50 years and above, those with co-morbidities aged 18-49 years of age will be prioritized; while in the third phase, those in states/LGAs with high disease burden that missed the first phase.

In the fourth phase, the ED said other eligible populations will be vaccinated as the vaccines become available. He noted that this phase will kick off in 2022, while the other three phases in 2021.

Shuaib further explained that the Acronym TEACH means: T: Traditional Vaccination Campaign Approach; E: Electronic Self Registration by Eligible Nigerians; A: Assisted Electronic Registration of Eligible Nigerians; C: Concomitant Vaccination alongside Electronic Registration and H: House-to-House Electronic Registration.

He restated that Nigeria targets to vaccinate 70% of her population to achieve herd immunity. The ED also added that only Nigerians aged 18 and above are eligible for vaccine roll-out, except children with severe health issues as advised by WHO.

The Director-General, NAFDAC, Mojisola Adeyeye, on her part said the agency will continue to monitor supply during vaccination to ensure that the cold chain is not broken.

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