FG Launches Fresh Strategy to Fast-track COVID-19 Vaccination

 FG Launches Fresh Strategy to Fast-track COVID-19 Vaccination

The federal government yesterday formally unveiled a strategy to enable the country achieve its COVID-19 vaccination target.

While giving an update on the vaccination exercise, the government said the country has so far taken delivery of 64,113,760 doses of COVID-19 vaccines since vaccination began and has administered 24.8 million doses.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire said as at the end January 2022, the country had vaccinated 20 million of her eligible population (about 18 per cent).

He commended NPHCDA efforts to expand COVID-19 vaccination sites in the country which has helped to fast track the campaign. Ehanire said primary healthcare centres would have helped greatly in administering the COVID19 vaccine if they were readily available across the country.

He therefore solicited the assistance of development partners to redirect efforts towards establishing primary healthcare centres in the rural areas.

SCALES initiative was first introduced in November 2021, by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to rapidly ramp up COVID-19 vaccine coverage by expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines outside the health facility. SCALES is an acronym for service delivery, communication, accountability, logistics, electronic reporting, and supportive supervision for the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination.

As part of the strategy, the agency established mass vaccination sites at all public places such as markets, parks, shopping malls, schools, mosques, and churches.

However, Ehanire said that although the SCALES strategy had proven to be quite effective in ramping up COVID-19 vaccination coverage, the proportion of fully vaccinated Nigerians was still very low, partly because we have been using two-dose vaccines.

“There is a unique opportunity to leverage the SCALES strategy using COVID-19 vaccination structures and resources to improve Routine Immunisation (RI) coverage, with improved efficiency and reduced duplication of efforts by health care workers.

“This is to ensure that while controlling the transmission of COVID-19, Nigeria does not become a fertile ground for outbreak of childhood vaccine preventable diseases by rapidly increasing RI uptake alongside COVID-19 uptake,” he said.

While unveiling the initiative, Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib said, SCALES enables one to find or locate the nearest vaccination centre where he or she would get vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine without time wasting.

According to him, the strategy seeks to integrate COVID-19 vaccination with the routine vaccination exercise.

He said the agency also plans to vaccinate more people with one dose of Johnson and Johnson vaccine to avoid the need for them coming for second dose.

“All one simply needs to do is to log in to the vaccination site website and you will be able to find out the vaccination centre nearest to you,” he said.

On the progress being made in the vaccination drive, Shuaib said: “the agency is currently doing doing a little over 200,000 vaccination per day, targeting 500,000 per day going forward.

The agency has also formally launched the single shot of Johnson and Johnson vaccine which it hopes will help fast-track COVID19 vaccination and to achieve the much desired immunity for the country,” he said.

He said so far, there are 254,293 confirmed cases of COVID19 with 3,142 deaths in Nigeria.

According to him, the country has so far taken delivery of 64,113,760 of various types of COVID19 vaccines, adding that Nigeria was expecting additional 48, 125,800 doses in few months’ time.

According to the breakdown, 17 million had received their first dose, while the second dose have been received over seven million. Also, 660,000 persons have received booster jabs, he said.

Speaking on the performance of states in the vaccination drive, the NPHCDA said Nasarawa was leading others with over 50 per cent vaccination followed by Jigawa state equally with 50 percent.

He said the south-east was the lowest performing zone in terms of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign

Shuaib expressed hope that the country would meet the end of March target of 50 per cent vaccination of eligible populace.

On his part, the Country Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Walter Kazadi Molumbo said there were many lessons to be been learnt on best approaches to contain health epidemic such as the COVID19 pandemic.

He urged Nigeria’s government to help in the campaign against vaccine hesitancy.

Also, the Country Director of UNICEF in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said about 60 million COVID-19 vaccines have so far been designated for Nigeria.

Ayomide Oyewole

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