The executive director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, has said it is extremely risky for the nation and her citizens to go into the end-of-year festivities – which will involve travels, crowded gatherings and reunions – without adequate measures to ensure that people are protected against COVID-19.
Speaking at the Presidential Steering Committee briefing on the progress of COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria, Shuaib thumbed up the call for eligible Nigerians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the nation moves towards the end of the year.
According to him, Nigeria is still short of its 111,776,503 target of vaccinating the eligible population to reach herd immunity against the disease.
“As of this morning, Monday, November 15, 2021, a total of 5,891,305 eligible persons have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This represents only 5.3 per cent of the overall eligible population while 3,252,067 have received their second dose and are fully vaccinated, thereby representing only 2.9 per cent of the overall population of eligible persons,” he said.
To boost this number, Shuaib said the NPHCDA, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 Response, has initiated the COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Campaign to achieve herd immunity and create an enabling environment for economic recovery and a return to social normalcy in the country.
“However, the mass vaccination campaigns will require mass mobilisation of Nigerians for increased vaccine uptake. This cannot be done successfully without the support of all critical stakeholders including governors, commissioners, the local government chairmen, traditional and religious leaders, the civil society organisations, the state ministries of health, the state primary healthcare boards, all health professionals and our professional media community. We remain thankful to all stakeholders for the selfless services rendered thus far and we kindly request that we continue to take up the responsibility of protecting Nigerians against COVID-19 by continually educating and sensitizing our community with the right information and right resources to fully protect them from the deadly virus.
“On our part at NPHCDA, we are supporting states to establish mass vaccination sites across the country. There will be expansion of vaccination sites to all public health facilities (primary, secondary, tertiary), inclusion of private health facilities and setting up of mass vaccination sites in populated areas (e.g., universities, colleges of education, polytechnics, schools of technology, vocational institutions, stadiums, motor parks, town squares, markets, shopping malls etc). This process will not interrupt the ongoing vaccination services in public health facilities. All designated health facilities would still vaccinate against COVID-19 as well as carry out their routine services,” he added.
The NPHCDA expressed the agency’s commitment to continue engaging stakeholders to promote awareness and vaccine confidence, saying it has strengthened its accountability framework to reflect principles of transparency in the handling of COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria. This was even as he reiterated government’s commitment to mass vaccination campaigns.
He also expressed hope that, at least, 50 per cent of our population will be vaccinated by the end of January 2022.
Shuaib further said the NPHCDA has commenced a nationwide “Operation Verify Your COVID-19 Vaccination Record Online” exercise to enable Nigerians to confirm their personal information such as name, date of birth, and correct damaged QR codes.
He maintained that verifying personal information will enable the government to secure vaccination records of vaccinated Nigerians against impersonation and other fraudulent activities.
According to him, the exercise is also one of the ways of checking the criminal activities of those who may have obtained the vaccination card without taking the vaccine, adding that the agency will invalidate all COVID-19 vaccination cards illegally obtained by unvaccinated people during this exercise.
“This also allows international travellers to verify their vaccination records well ahead of their travel date. We, therefore, advise such persons to verify their records a week before their travel date to avoid delays at the point of departure. However, newly vaccinated persons are advised to verify their vaccination records 24 hours after. To verify your COVID-19 vaccination records, please visit www.vaccination.gov.ng/verification-guide, and follow the instructions. If for any reason one is unable to access the website, simply call the NPHCDA COVID-19 helpline: 0700 220 1122 for assistance,” he added.