Lack of storage halts Fed Govt’s vaccine supply to eight states

Dr Faisal Shuaib

As part of efforts to kick-start the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination in the country, the Federal Government yesterday said it had delivered Moderna vaccines to 29 states.

It, however, disclosed that eight states are yet to receive the vaccines because they lacked requisite storage capacity, especially backup cold chain facilies.

The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, who spoke at a joint briefing on COVID-19 vaccination by his agency, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), said the second dose vaccination with AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will begin today – August 25, and ends September 5, 2021.

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“In the last few days, our focus has been on distributing the range of COVID-19 vaccines – Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca to the states, as well as concluding the training of state and LGA personnel to ensure optimum vaccine utilisation.

“So far, we have deployed Moderna vaccines to 29 states. It is pertinent to state that we could not deploy the vaccines immediately after NAFDAC certification because, unlike AstraZeneca, the Moderna vaccine did not come with complete barcoding. And this is absolutely needed for us to be able to track and trace the vaccines.

“Nigeria was the first country to use Track and Trace to monitor the movement and utilisation of the vaccine. At every point in time, we know where each vaccine vial is in the country. This takes a lot of time as it entails careful packaging, serialisation and follow up to the end-user.

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“The remaining eight states that we have not deployed the vaccines to have not demonstrated readiness in terms of their cold chain capacity. While on the one hand, they have the ultra-cold chain that the Federal Government supplied, but we also require that they have a backup cold chain equipment. So either they have a working cold room or a working freezer or chest freezer. If for example, there is a power outage, there is the opportunity to quickly transfer the vaccines to a backup source. That way we do not risk the potency of the vaccines.

“For these eight states that have not provided that type of backup plan, we are holding on to the vaccines, to ensure that they are adequately prepared before we send the vaccines. This is in line with our commitments to make sure that only states that have potent vaccines are administered to all Nigerians. Any state that is not ready, we do not deploy the vaccines. We are hoping that in the next couple of days, the states will be able to put their acts together and make sure that they are ready to receive the vaccines,” he said.

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