Experts in the health sector have raised concerns and described as “unfair,” the distribution data of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines expected in the country in the next few weeks, as released by the Federal Government.
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), had revealed that Kano State leads the pack of six states with top most priority for the vaccines with the highest doses of 3,557, followed by Lagos state with 3,131, while Katsina State was expected to follow with 2,361; Kaduna (2,074); Bauchi (1,900) and Oyo State, 1,848 vaccines.
However, Abuja falls into the second to the last position, number 36, to get the vaccines with 695 doses. But President, Guild of Medical Directors (GMD), Prof. Olufemi Babalola, who questioned the distribution data, was disappointed at the glaring religion and ethnicity criteria used in sharing the vaccines amongst states.
Surprised that Abuja was down the distribution chain despite the high number of COVID-19 infections and deaths at the nation’s capital, he said Lagos and Abuja were more than qualified to receive the highest doses of the vaccine when they arrive.
“Nothing is ever done fairly in this country, everything is done on the basis of where am I from, who are my people whether they are the priority or not; those are the people that should be given first. Those are the things that affect our decisions in this country unfortunately.
“There is no reason why Kano for instance should be put ahead of Abuja even as we speak, the rate at which they are having the disease in Kano is not any way comparable to what is happening in the Federal Capital Territory.
“Definitely the two priority areas are Abuja and Lagos and even within those priority areas, you then pick out priority persons; frontline health workers, people older than 60 and you can do the rest as you wish.”
Also questioning the proposed vaccine distribution was President, National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr. Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, who expressed fear that given the lack of proper sensitisation, the COVID- 19 vaccines may end up being wasted in majority of the states listed as top priority states.
While warning that the Federal Government was making a huge mistake in the criteria used in sharing the COVID-19 vaccines, he said although Kano State was known to be highly populated, in recent times the number of COVID-19 infections could not be compared to the daily numbers coming out from Lagos and Abuja.
“I fault the criteria used in sharing it because if we have good statistics of how the COVID-19 virus is affecting people, we should use that as a yardstick of sharing the vaccines and not using religion, zones or states as a criteria in sharing it.
“They are not sensitising Nigerians enough and I can beat my chest to say most Nigerians would not even want to take it because there are videos that have gone round to query the effectiveness of the vaccines.
“When we do not educate Nigerians on what and how the vaccines will help us, it will just be like a mission that has failed from the onset.
“Going to give more vaccines to Kano when you have not educated them on the product you are giving them and its effectiveness to help try to stop the COVID- 19 virus, they will not take it and I hope we will not end up wasting our money, time and vaccines on people that may still refuse to take the vaccines.”