The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), says in a bid to increase COVID-19 vaccination coverage in the country, it has introduced vaccination exercises during Sunday services across the country.
The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this during a meeting with the leaders of Christian Association of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja.
Shauib noted that the move was to ensure that members of the Christian community who have not had access to the COVID-19 vaccine for any reason were given an opportunity to be vaccinated at their worship places.
“I am glad to inform you that from this second phase of the COVID-19 vaccine roll out, we have introduced Sunday Vaccination. I must say that feedback from the field is very encouraging and I sincerely thank all Christian leaders who have given the vaccination team access to their churches and their members to receive COVID-19 vaccine during Sunday service,” he explained.
The Immunisation boss added that Christian leaders across the country have been formidable pillars of support in all primary health care interventions.
“Suffice to say that the Christian community contributed immensely to our achieving wild poliovirus certification last year and indeed our sustaining the country’s polio-free status for over a year now. We are most grateful as a people and Government.
“I am aware that in the States and LGAs, representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria are strong and committed members of the State and LGA Task Forces on Immunization.
“These ambassadors have contributed immensely to confidence-building and trust in Government-led public health programs, especially in the days of the Nigeria polio eradication programme when we were battling with high rate of refusals to vaccination due to rumours and misinformation,” he added.
He also disclosed that arrangements have been made for corporate vaccination for eligible staff of Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), Private/corporate organizations, including Faith-based organizations, their family members, dependents, and retirees to be vaccinated at their convenience.
He, however urged all eligible persons to visit www.nphcda.gov.ng to access the registration portal.
Similarly, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, Minister of state for health, urged Christian leaders to mobilize their members for vaccination.
Mamora said that the only way Nigerians can reciprocate the efforts of the government in securing the health of the populace was to access the vaccines provided.
“The highly dreaded delta variants are here with us, hence we must mobilize our congregation to quickly take the vaccines so that the government can get more.
“The vaccines are effective and safe, they have been certified by the world health organisation and NAFDAC.
“You all have the responsibility as leaders to protect the lives of your followers,” he said.
The Director General of the National Orientation Agency, Mr. Garba Abari, promised to join the Christian leaders in cascading the vaccination message to all corners of Nigeria.
While commending the Christian leaders on their commitment to the well being of their followers, the US CDC Nigeria Country Director, Dr Mary Boyd, said that continuous sensitization should be a norm.
Boyd added that the role of Christian leaders cannot be overemphasised in giving message of hope, changing behaviour, combating fake news, rumours and encouraging Nigerians to take the vaccine.
Speaking on behalf of the Christian Leaders, the Executive Director, Nigeria Inter Faith Action Association, Dr. Sunday Onuorah, called on Christian leaders to partner with the government in promoting acceptance of the vaccine.
He noted that faith leaders were in position to address misinformation while enhancing public health impact.
“We are here because we know that faith leaders have the capacity and authority to effect a change of mind and drive acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines.
“The Church and all faith communities will partner with the Federal government to make Nigerians smile, we succeeded with polio, malaria and we will succeed in this time of COVID-19,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that NPHCDA’s strategic approach of continuously consulting with various communities, religious leaders, traditional rulers, public and private sector who are critical in the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out as well as in the successful delivery of other basic health care services to Nigerians.
The meeting provided a unique opportunity to discuss how the groups can leverage their influence to effectively communicate the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines to Nigerians.
NAN recalls that the five Blocs of CAN will cascade the messages on promoting COVID-19 vaccination all over the country.