NPHCDA, religious leaders collaborate as FG opens window for COVID-19 first dose vaccination

The Federal Government has opened a new window of opportunity for Nigerians willing to take the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as the country moves closer to its two million target for first dose vaccination.

Dr Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), said this on Wednesday in Abuja at an advocacy visit by Nigerian Interfaith Action Association (NIFAA), led by Bishop Sunday Onuoha.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the visit was for NIFAA to convey its support to NPHCDA towards promoting COVID-19 vaccination.

The NPHCDA is in-charge of releasing guidelines on registration for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out and vaccination in Nigeria.

“We are in the process of reaching the two million mark for those that have taken the first dose of the vaccine and there is still a window of opportunity for those that want to take the first dose.

“However, we have already started the second dose and we are hoping that in the next few weeks we will get additional vaccines that will cover other Nigerians,” Shuaib said.

He highlighted that the contributions of NIFAA in disseminating information for the COVID-19 vaccination, and urged them not to relent.

“We acknowledge your life-long work in the health sector. You are unrelenting. Just as we celebrated polio eradication, we hope we can continue to work together to eradicate COVID-19.

‘This meeting is an opportunity to highlight the work the association has done in collaboration with Caritas Nigeria in support of U.S. CDC towards producing promotion, education and communication materials on how religious leaders can use the seven key messages to convey information around COVID-19.

“NIFAA played a major role in ensuring that information about the vaccine were properly disseminated and this was the same way we eradicated polio,” he added.

The NPHCDA boss listed messages around Life, hope, connections, curing and celebration as the seven key messages to convey information around COVID-19.

He noted that these messages must be conveyed using the influence of religious leaders to ensure that the correct information was passed to their adherents.

Speaking earlier, Onuoha assured that his team whether in the Christian and Muslim communities would always encourage their faithful to take the vaccine through its various advocacy programmes.

“The essence of our meeting today is that the Federal Government has committed into the hands of the Primary Healthcare Development Agency this vaccination project and they are to go into the whole community in Nigeria to do the vaccination.

“They have the mandate and we have the heart of the people, so, we are going to communicate to the heart of the people to accept the vaccination.

“It is a matter of collaboration and primary healthcare cannot do it alone and faith communities cannot do it alone.

“We did it with the polio vaccination and it was a success, here is another one and I believe we will succeed as a team,” Onuoha said.

The clergyman urged Nigerians to go for vaccination as the vaccines were safe having being certified by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The visiting NIFAA team donated Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials to the NPHCDA boss for conveying public health messaging in the country. (NAN)