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February 28, 2021

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Why children in Nigeria won’t be vaccinated against COVID-19

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The Nigerian government has explained why children in the country will not be receiving the approved COVID-19 vaccines when it finally arrives.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, while speaking at Monday’s weekly briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, said the vaccines have not been proven to be safe for children.

“What the evidence has shown is that the vaccines have been tried in individuals above 16 years of age for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and above 18 years in the Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine,” Mr Shuaib said.

“The guidance is that these are the only individuals that it is safe to try the vaccines on.”

He noted that data is being gathered on the effects of COVID-19 on children.

“However, from the data that has been shared by the NCDC, people who are most affected by COVID-19 are those that are adults or those that have co-morbidity, especially the elderly,” he said.

Nigeria is set to receive four million doses of the approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines as the first batch of vaccines expected in the country.

The government had said it aims to vaccinate about 109 million of its population against COVID-19 over a period of two years.

It, however, said only eligible population from 18 years and above, including pregnant women, will be vaccinated.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) recently approved the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in Nigeria with vaccination expected to begin by the end of February.

Nigeria has recorded over 150,000 COVID-19 cases and over 1,800 deaths from the virus.

Vaccine storage

Mr Shuaib reiterated that the country has the capacity to store and manage the expected vaccines, with the cold chain requirements of +2 °C to +8°C.

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He said this aligns with the agency’s cold chain equipment used during the fight against poliovirus.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Nigeria to vaccinate 109 million citizens in two years – Official

“The vaccines will be stored in Walk-in Cold Rooms (WICR) at the National, Zonal and state levels. At the LGA level, the vaccines will be stored in vaccine refrigerators and at Health facilities with Solar Direct Drive Cold Chain Equipment,” he said.

He said approximately 7,500 political wards in the country have Solar Direct Drive (SDD) refrigerators to store vaccines even where there is no electricity supply.

“The remaining political wards that do not have these in their facilities are currently been fed by installation agents that have assured us that the process will be completed by the end of this year.

“With the trend in the rate of installations, we have no reason to doubt their ability to deliver on this task. In the meantime, those wards without SDDs will be supported from neighbouring health facilities,” Mr Shuaib noted.

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