The Federal Government has announced August 16 as the new date for the commencement of the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination in the country.
The phase will see the country administering the Moderna vaccine doses donated by the United States.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed the new date on Monday while featuring on “Good Morning Nigeria,” a live programme of the Nigerian Television Authority.
The minister explained that the postponement of the commencement from August 10 to August 16 was “purely administrative.”
He said: “We have received 4,800,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and we will commence administering the doses on Monday, August 16.
“The exercise was supposed to commence tomorrow (Tuesday), August 10, but we suspended it till Monday, and the reason is purely administrative.
“When vaccines arrive the country, they are taken to National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.
“The agency will analyse them and thereafter give us a green light for the use.”
The minister debunked insinuations that the exercise was postponed indefinitely over concerns raised by some experts on the propriety of using Moderna vaccine.
He said, like the first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine which had been fully administered without hitch, the doses of Moderna vaccine donated to the country by the US were “safe and meant to save lives.”
“I want to thank Nigerians for the way they responded to the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccine.
“I can say authoritatively that we succeeded administering the four million doses of the vaccine and we do not have a single expired vaccine. They were all administered to the targeted population.
“I want to encourage Nigerians to come out also to take the Moderna vaccine,” Mohammed said.
The minister also disclosed that the second phase of the vaccination would target people from 18 years and above.
He explained that the 18 years and above were targeted because the younger ones, even in the US, were now becoming more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection and attack
Mohammed underscored the need for people to come out to take the vaccine stressing that “Nigeria has entered the third wave of COVID-19.’’
He explained that the Delta variant of COVID-19 pandemic which is more virulent and deadly had been recorded in some states since July.
“If you have our two doses, it is clear that even if you are infected with COVID-19, it will be very mild.
“You will not be hospitalised, talk less of death as opposed to the fellow that has not taken the vaccine.
“So, we must encourage people to go out and take the vaccine,” he added.
The minister said following the pandemic, a major challenge faced was “infodemic’’ caused by fake news around the vaccine.
“For instance, they first came up with the fake news that it has magnetic effect if you take the vaccine.
“After that, they said it was meant to depopulate certain part of the country.
“All this is not true because every vaccine you use today has been proven to be safe and to safe life.
“If the vaccines are not safe, they will not be administered,” he said.
Mohammed reiterated the call on religious and community leaders, media and other influential people to join the Presidential Committee on COVID-19 in fighting fake news and disinformation around the vaccines.