FG flags off COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Campaign

Boss Mustapha

By Chimezie Godfrey

The Federal Government on Friday flagged off the COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Campaign to ramp up coverage to 50% of the eligible target population in the country by January, 2022.

The Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 and Secretary to Government of Federation, Boss Mustapha appreciated all Nigerians, especially those who have stepped forward for their full doses of COVID-19 vaccines under the first and second phases of the campaign.

He therefore urged them to remain in the army of foot soldiers against hesitancy and misconceptions.

He said,”It gives me great pleasure and honour to be part of this National Flag-off of COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Campaign aimed at ramping up coverage to at least 50% of our 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.

“In addition to vaccines donated to our country, huge resources have been committed to ensuring that: Our citizens have access to the effective and safe vaccines; Awareness was adequately created to ensure that vaccine hesitancy was minimized; Strategy was developed to target the vaccination of at least 70% of our population for herd immunity; Infrastructure was developed nationwide to support the supply and delivery chain; Adequate manpower was recruited and trained to deliver the vaccines;
Protocols were developed and updated regularly to minimize the risk of internal spread and importation of the virus.

“Technology was deployed to keep records of the vaccines administered, people vaccinated and ensure that side effects were adequately monitored; building health infrastructure and human resources to safely bring the process closest to our eligible target population;
Strict measures were taken to prevent fake vaccines from getting into the system; and
As a futuristic measure, prepare traveling Nigerians for the emerging trends which requires full vaccination as a pre-condition for travels to certain destinations. The list is inexhaustible.

“I wish to seize this opportunity to appreciate all Nigerians, especially those who have stepped forward for their full doses of COVID-19 vaccines under the first and second phases of the campaign. I urge them as patriotic citizens, to remain in the army of foot soldiers against hesitancy and misconceptions.”

Mustapha said 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.”

He noted that this realization of the low level of vaccination and developments around the world have combined to drive the adoption of the COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Campaign strategy that would ramp up COVID-19 the numbers around the country.

He stressed that 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 centers, Motor parks, worship houses, and other public places that attract high human traffic.

“Nigerians are assured that the NPHCDA 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.

“Let me at this juncture, remind Nigerians that the Vaccine Mandate Policy has become a global phenomenon and Nigeria is not an exception. All Federal Government Employees are therefore reminded 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,” he said.

Mustapha therefore urge all public servants that are yet to be vaccinated to take advantage of this mass vaccination to receive their vaccines in order to protect themselves and their loved ones, reminding them that no one is protected until we are all protected.

He commended Nigerian Governors, FMOH, NPHCDA, development partners and other stakeholders, for providing leadership, oversight and committing to drive this initiative that will ensure that all eligible Nigerians are vaccinated within the shortest possible time.

“I urge all stakeholders, therefore, to mobilize community members, aged 18 and above, especially the elderly to get vaccinated against COVID -19.

“I also urge Nigerians to, after vaccination, continue to observe the non-pharmaceutical measures: wear face mask, wash your hands regularly and maintain physical distance until we have vaccinated enough Nigerians to achieve herd immunity,” Mustapha said.

In his remark, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire noted that the flags-off of the COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Campaign is important s a major step forward in our efforts to curb the spread of the covid-19 virus and gain the desired herd immunity as quickly as possible.

He said that they are pleased that Nigeria ranks among the high performing countries in total covid-19 response, including vaccine roll out; nevertheless, “we cannot rest on our oars because, with our population of 214 million people we have more to do, within the same time frame, than smaller countries.

“It means we must speed up current vaccination rate across the whole country; we must work harder and faster than others, just to get the same result.

“It is critical that we reach all the eligible persons in good time.”

Ehanire noted that according to situation reports on Covid-19 vaccination reaching me, just 5,985,049 persons have been vaccinated with the 1st dose, with 3,336,866 of these receiving their second dose, as of 18th November 2021, out of a target population of 111,776,503.

“From these figures, we can see that we are not where we want to be with the pace of vaccination.

“It is in the light of this that the Presidential Steering Committee, the Federal Ministry of Health, and National Primary Healthcare Development Agency reviewed the vaccine delivery strategy and decided to start the next phase of National Vaccine Deployment Plan and set up mass vaccination sites.

“This simply means expanding vaccination points to all primary, secondary, and tertiary hospitals, engaging Company hospitals Staff Clinics, Private hospitals and, now, public spaces, like this ace, for fast access to vaccination for those who keep postponing.

“Our aim is to have vaccinated 55 million residents of Nigeria by the end of January, 2022, which is 50% of our target population.

“We have enough vaccines and assurance of flow of high quality vaccines from many sources to be certain that we can sustain the campaign to meet the deadline we have set for ourselves.

The Ministry of Health plans to maintain that energy and strive for herd immunity, which we had calculated to be by vaccinating at least 70% of our eligible population; but our preference is to exceed that target, because lessons we learn from observing developments in other countries, is that we need to aim higher than 70%, to be more assured of protecting the health of most Nigerians.

“But this ambition can succeed only with mass mobilization and participation of citizens. This is why I call on all our partners in this fight to confront covid-19, starting with their Excellencies state governors, LGA chairmen, traditional and religious leaders, Ward Development Committees, community leaders, the media, and all citizens to take this as a national task and urge eligible unvaccinated persons to turn up for the vaccination exercise by walking to a nearby vaccination centre,” Ehanire noted.

The Minister assured that the Federal Government is committed to providing safe and efficacious Covid-19 vaccines and dispensing them backed with accountability and transparency.

According to him, all vaccines are tagged and tracked by NAFDAC to ensure that quality and potency is maintained in the supply chain.
No vaccine is allowed to any vaccination except authenticated and with safety verification. We do not compromise safety and standards.

“On behalf of the Government of Nigeria, I express appreciation to all countries who have offered or contributed vaccines, accessories and technical and other forms of supports to our fight against Covid-19, though the African Union or the COVAX Facility.

“I remind all persons that taking the Covid-19 vaccine is one of the proven ways to avert mass catastrophes that unfortunately befell some countries, before vaccines were widely available. Each of us plays a part in the effort to checkmate the virus. I urge everyone play that part.

“The second strategy is to observe the Covid19 prevention and control protocols such as regular hand washing, wearing face mask maintaining physical distance, avoiding large gatherings. This is especially important for persons with comorbidities like hypertension, diabetes and other chronic non communicable diseases, which predispose to serious illness if infected with SARS-COV-2.

“With diligent observance of these protocols and sustained efforts at mass vaccination, we shall keep the pandemic controlled,” the Minister said.