Federal Government, Friday, flagged off a national campaign to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination in the country.
Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha who launched the campaign in Abuja, said that the campaign aims at ramping up coverage to at least 50 per cent of eligible target population by 31st January 2022.
“This is coming on the heels of the first and second rounds of vaccination that focused on the strategic leadership, frontline medical workers and other eligible citizens.
“You will recall that the National Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic commenced early in March 2020, shortly after the index case was recorded. Through the concerted effort of researchers, humanity rapidly advanced the global response to the discovery and deployment of vaccines to control a virus that had mutated into deadly variants and cumulatively caused over five million fatalities, according to the statistics released by the World Health Organisation.
“The Federal Government, as part of its duties and commitment to the welfare and safety of Nigerians, speared no efforts in accessing vaccines which were deployed in a strategic manner so that the impact of the virus on all facets of our national life would be minimized,” he said.
He stated that in addition to vaccines donated to the country, huge resources were committed to ensuring that citizens have access to effective and safe vaccines.
“In spite of these unparalleled levels of commitments and the achievement recorded, in the first and second phases of COVID-19 vaccination campaign, I must inform Nigerians that we are far from achieving the national target of vaccinating 70% of our eligible target population to move Nigeria towards attaining herd immunity by 2022.
”It is important to mention that through this Mass Vaccination Campaign initiative arrangements have been made to ease all known bottlenecks to access because NPHCDA has expanded vaccination sites. These sites include (i) public health facilities, (ii) private health facilities, (iii) mobile vaccination posts and (iv) mass vaccination sites such as-: Schools, Markets, shopping malls, Recreation centres, Motor parks, worship houses, and other public places that attract high human traffic.“
He further assured Nigerians that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency has also taken stringent measures to prevent any compromise of the process along the value chain.
“This vaccination is free because Government remains conscious of its responsibility to safeguard the health of our people,“ Mustapha added.
Similarly, the PSC Chairman reminded Federal Government Employees that December 1, 2021 remains the deadline for all to show evidence of being vaccinated or a PCR Negative test result done 72 hours before being allowed into their offices.
It would be recalled that at the 121st meeting (10th in 2021) of the National Economic Council, which was held virtually and was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Thursday, the Executive Director/CEO of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, informed the Council on the Status of the country’s COVID-19 Vaccine roll-out.
Dr. Shuaib noted that Nigeria has received over 100 million doses of COVID–19 vaccines (from COVAX, African Union, other countries) which he said was sufficient to ramp up vaccination for about 50 per cent of the targeted population.
The total eligible population of Nigerians for the vaccine is over 111 million, he added.
“Given the availability of vaccines, we have started rolling out a plan to vaccinate 50 percent of Nigerians, 18 years and above by January 31st, 2022,” the NPHCDA DG said, adding that there would be a scaling up of over 3,000 health facilities nationwide.
In his presentation to the Council on state performance report on COVID-19, the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa said Nigerians must continue to maintain and sustain the COVID-19 response, especially as it enters the holiday period where there will be anticipated travels within and outside the country, as well as mass events to herald the holiday season.
Adetifa said the country should “maintain visibility of the outbreak by testing, continuing to encourage adherence to public health and social measures, encourage vaccination and address vaccine hesitancy.”
The DG, NCDC added that the Delta variant of the COVID-19 is still the dominant strain of concern in the country.