COVID-19: FG Tasks Christian Leaders On Vaccination

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…Takes vaccination to churches

The executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib.
The executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib.

The Federal Government has tasked religious leaders in the Christendom to help in reducing the spread of the novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the society by helping in the promotion of vaccination against the virus.

Speaking during the sensitization of Christian leaders on Phase 2 COVID-19 vaccination and primary health care in Nigeria organized by the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) in collaboration with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the NPHCDA executive director, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, appealed to the clerics to mobilise their members to be administered the vaccine. 

Citing the importance of clerics as pillars in the support in all primary health care interventions in the country, he expressed government’s commitment in working with the clerics, saying COVID-19 vaccinations would be administered in churches during service, starting from this Sunday, to ensure more persons receive the vaccinations at their convenience.

“I am glad to inform you that from this second phase of the COVID-19 vaccine roll out, we have introduced Sunday vaccination. I must say that feedback from the field is very encouraging and I sincerely thank all christian leaders who have given the vaccination team access to their churches and their members to receive COVID-19 vaccine during Sunday service.

“Suffice to say that the christian community contributed immensely to our achieving wild poliovirus certification last year and indeed our sustaining the country’s polio-free status for over a year now. We are most grateful as a people and government,” he said.

Shuiab also said the agency was working with the states as it had made special arrangement for corporate vaccination.  

“This is for eligible staff of government ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs), private or corporate organizations, including faith-based organizations, their family members, dependants, and retirees to be vaccinated at their convenience. 

“I am aware that in the states and LGAs, representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria are strong and committed members of the state and LGA task forces on immunization,” he added.

Shuiab expressed disappointment over challenges to collective desire to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic which he gave as rumour and misinformation, including among a few in the Christian community. 

“This has resulted in vaccine hesitancy across all states of the federation, a behaviour which puts the lives of individuals and our communities at great risk”.

“Nevertheless, the Federal Government is encouraged by your presence at this meeting today as we are confident that with more systematic support from the faith community, we shall successfully vaccinate all eligible Nigerians as scheduled so that we can return to our normal way of life including the ways we worship and show care for our brethren.

“Remember that even after vaccination you need to continue to observe all COVID-19 prevention protocols including wearing face masks, maintaining hand hygiene and observing physical distancing until the country vaccinates all eligible population and achieves herd immunity,” he said.

Earlier, the Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, appealed to Nigerians to reciprocate the efforts of government by accessing the vaccines provided, saying there was need to access the right based knowledge, signs, data and evidence.

“The federal government is doing its part by giving the vaccines but the onus lies on us to recognise what they are doing by recognising the need to access the vaccines and the various vaccination points across the country.

“We need to exhaust what we have and it is when people come out and take these vaccines that we can ask for more because we don’t want any wastage,” he added.

In his welcome address, the executive director of Nigerian Interfaith Action Association, Dr. Sunday Onuoha, said COVID-19 does not differentiate between christians and muslims, even as he committed to the association’s full engagement in the full process of the project.

“COVID-19 goes beyond the boarders of CAN bloc. So, in this gathering, we are christian brothers and sisters even from the other witnesses. Even from certain advantages who have millions and millions of followers that do not belong to CAN. 

“We have expanded our base in this process, with the high level of engagements by wide cross section of Christian organisations that are here today, we look forward to an outcome and full participation in this process,” he added.

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