The Federal Government on Tuesday in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, began sensitisation and mobilisation of Nigerians to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
The mobilisation exercise, carried out by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, in collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, through a town hall meeting for the North Central zone of the country was the first in the series to cover the remaining five geopolitical zones in the country.
In a keynote address at the occasion, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, and Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said that Nigerians were battling with two viruses in the current pandemic, which include the COVID-19 as a virus and the most dreaded virus of fake news.
Consequently, he stated that there was the need to mobilise citizens to get vaccinated in order to protect themselves and their communities against the virus and therefore slow down the transmission.
Mustapha said, “With the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, we are more confident that sooner or later we shall overcome the virus. While government will ensure the availability of the vaccines, the onus is for the citizens to be mindful, make extra efforts to access the vaccine and get vaccinated as and when due.
“I wish to enjoin all stakeholders to mobilise all their community members to take advantage of the COVID-19 vaccines and get vaccinated to stop transmission of the pandemic. The Federal Government is committed to providing all needed resources at its disposal to ensure Nigerians have unfettered access to COVID-19 vaccines.”
The SGF added that with the existing arrangement, Nigeria would continue to access the vaccines, which would arrive in batches to cater for over 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population between 2021 and 2022, acccording to the rollout and administration plan.
Mustapha concluded by assuring Nigerians that the vaccines are safe, effective and would be administered free of charge to the citizens.
In an address, the host governor, Abdullahi Sule, took liberty of the occasion to reiterate that the global pandemic of COVID-19 has exposed the state of Nigeria’s healthcare centres at all levels.
However, he said it was against that backdrop that the Nasarawa State government resolved to continue to evolve measures that would strengthen the provision of her healthcare facilities at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
Governor Sule said, “I am happy to state that, part of our commitment in this direction is the completion of the Nasarawa State Infectious Disease, Diagnosis and Research Centre.
“The Centre is serving as a research hub, crucible for innovations and operational research that provokes policy initiation. The centre also conducts clinical trials for vaccines, drugs and other products, in compliance with ethical standards, as well as support trainings in public health and researches at all levels.
“In addition, it provides scientific guidance for the local production of vaccines, diagnostic kits, sera, anti-sera and other related health products. I am happy to state that the Centre is one of the best diagnostic centres in the country.”
He therefore, appeal to the Federal Government to further equip the already established Diagnostic Centre with the state-of-art facilities in order to meet the global standard and reduce the rate of medical tourism for the diagnosis and treatment of viruses.
In a remark, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the mission of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 to the North Central zone was to reassure traditional, faith and community leaders, that the vaccines Nigeria uses were tested as safe, and to urge leaders to recommend it to thier families and communities as the best protection against the dreaded disease.
Ehanire said, “We must contribute to the desired 70 per cent to be vaccinated, not just an act of individual self-protection but a civic duty to curtail the spread of the virus.”
Ehanire continued that every Nigerian has a role in the effort to stem the sp re ad of COVID-19 pandemic by being vaccinated, promoting vaccination, and observing the COVID-19 protocol of wearing face mask, regular hand washing with soap under running water and maintaining physical distancing.
He added, “This point is due for emphasis because the act of vaccination does not yet free us from these precautions, which till further notice, is still as relevant as on the day they were prescribed.”
However, the Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, raised the alarm that there was global scarcity of COVID-19 vaccines due to high demand for the vaccines, especially in countries where they were being produced.
For this reason, the Executive Director said government was anticipating a delay in vaccine supply to Nigeria.
Acccording to him, “the government has, therefore, decided to rationalize by preserving 50 per cent of available doses of the vaccine for administration as second doses.”