COVID-19: FG To Integrate Immunisation, Other PHC Services

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

As Nigeria plans to move to the next phase of her mass vaccination against the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) disease, the Federal Government has revealed plans to integrate childhood immunisation and other PHC services alongside the vaccination campaign.

The executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, made this known during the media briefing on the progress of COVID-19 vaccination today (January 25) in Abuja.

“What this simply means is that alongside the COVID-19 vaccines, childhood vaccines will also be available at COVID-19 vaccination sites.  Consequently, parents or guardians with children aged zero to 23 months are urged to take them along to the vaccination sites.

“The childhood vaccines protect against polio, whooping cough, measles, yellow fever, tetanus, tuberculosis, and other childhood preventable diseases. This is to ensure that while we are trying so hard to control the transmission of COVID-19, we do not neglect other PHC services or even have outbreaks of childhood, vaccine-preventable diseases on our hands,” he said.

Shuaib urged Nigerians to go to the vaccination sites or health centres nearest to them with their zero to 23-month-old children for vaccination against COVID-19 and childhood, vaccine-preventable diseases.

Giving progress update on the COVID-19 vaccination in the country, he stated that the record as of today (January 25) shows that 14,093,873 eligible persons have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria while 5,252,406 eligible Nigerians have been fully vaccinated.

“As you are aware, Nigeria introduced booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on December 10, 2021, following the recommendation by WHO for people who have received two doses of AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer Bio-N-Tech or one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccines. In line with his exemplary leadership style, President Muhammadu Buhari received his booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on December 21, 2021. So far, 416,980 Nigerians have received their booster dose. Again, this is a clear indication that many more Nigerians are determined to achieve maximum protection against COVID-19,” he added.

He, however, noted that the results are not evenly distributed across the states of the federation, adding the agency’s deep dive into state performances revealed that Nasarawa, Jigawa, FCT, Ogun and Kwara have remained the top 5 performing states on COVID-19 vaccine uptake.

“It is noteworthy to mention that Jigawa and Lagos have each vaccinated about 1.5 million eligible Nigerians with the first dose, while FCT, Nasarawa, Lagos and Delta are leading on second dose administration with more than 10 per cent of eligible populations in each of the states already vaccinated.

“On the walls of this hall, you can see the states’ performance charts displayed. It is in our spirit of transparency and accountability that we consider it important to keep Nigerians informed about the progress of COVID-19 vaccination in the states. We also believe that this information will serve as an encouragement for the states in the vaccine uptake, going forward,” he maintained.

He acknowledged the strong leadership displayed by many governors in ensuring that their citizens are vaccinated and encouraged them to do even more, even as he tasked the governors on state supervision support to ramp up vaccine uptake, especially in low-performing states.

“The following are our prayers to state governors: they should convene a meeting of LGA chairmen, traditional, political, religious leaders and the health team. He should charge them with the responsibility of ensuring that the populace within their constituencies are duly vaccinated; the governor should charge the LGA chairmen and health teams to develop daily, weekly and monthly COVID-19 and childhood vaccination targets based on the total eligible populations.”

He also said the governors can meet with the LGA chairmen and health teams every week, to review the results of the campaigns and confirm if these targets are met. “This can also be an agenda on the weekly state executive council meetings and an avenue to apply accountability mechanisms to the vaccination process by publicly rewarding LGA teams that perform the highest and sanction those that do not meet the minimum requirements despite the supports. This can be done in a fortnightly ceremony where the governor shakes the best performers and issue certificates or plaques of excellence,” he advised.

The ED further reminded Nigerians that its Joint Task Force on COVID-19 vaccine monitoring and accountability is still very active and vigilant, adding that government is on alert for any report of card-vending and other unlawful activities on COVID-19 vaccination.

He urged Nigerians to remain law-abiding and compliant with recommended safety measures on COVID-19, even as he expressed the hope that the year 2022 represents the exit and recovery of Nigeria and the rest of the world from COVID-19.

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