The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said that Nigerians under 18 years and pregnant women are not eligible to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Ehanire stated this while flagging off the COVID-19 vaccination exercise in Abuja on Friday, noting that Nigeria would “vaccinate 70 per cent of its population by 2023.”
The event was attended by the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, represented by Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe; Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, and several other stakeholders, including representatives of donor agencies.
The minister called on Nigerians to approach the vaccines phase with the unity of purpose and understand that nobody was safe until everyone was vaccinated.
Vaccination against COVID-19 began in Abuja on Friday.
A doctor at the National Hospital, Abuja, Dr Cyprian Ngong, made history as the first Nigerian to be vaccinated against the deadly virus, ushering Nigeria into a new phase in the fight against the pandemic.
The minister said, “We must believe our government on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines brought to Nigeria, support the planned and systematic roll-out of the vaccines and mobilise our citizens as we move into the states. We must recognise that vaccine hesitancy will negatively impact our lives and those of our loved ones if allowed to fester.
“Nigerians under 18 years and pregnant women are not eligible to take the vaccine except medically certified to take the jab. It is a relief and the marking of the start of a tedious but hopeful exercise to see our citizens develop immunity against the virus.
“It is a horrifying one year to follow a gradual increase of the COVID-19 casualties in our country, especially among health workers who were also depleting our human resources.”
He added that the deployment would be in four phases and align with the planned arrival of vaccines in batches.
He noted that each phase would capture a specific segment of the eligible population to ensure vaccine deployment equity.
The minister said apart from the frontline health workers, the following prioritised groups are the elderly and vulnerable with pre-existing health conditions.
“All eligible groups must get vaccinated as and when due while the non-eligible groups should respectfully await their turn. The vaccines are more than enough to go round and would be coming in phases. We have taken steps to ensure vaccine security and accountability. But we must also avoid any foul play or underground dealing in this exercise to embarrass us.
“These vaccines are our common assets and responsibility of every person to protect them and ensure proper use. I urge citizens to be vigilant and report any foul practice to the security agencies,” Ehanire stated.
The Federal Capital Territory Minister, Mohammed Bello, said 65 centres had been designated as vaccination centres across the FCT.
Nigeria is the third African country to benefit from the COVAX facility after Ghana and Coted’Ivoire.
The COVID-19 vaccines arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, aboard the Boeing 777 300 ER aircraft of Emirates Airline at exactly 11.45 am.