By Haruna Gimba
The federal government has opened a new window of opportunity for Nigerians keen to take the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, as the country moves closer to its goal of two million for the first dose of vaccination.
Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib stated this in Abuja during an advocacy visit by the Nigerian Interfaith Action Association (NIFAA), led by the Bishop Sunday Onuoha.
Health Reporters learnt that the visit was intended for NIFAA to convey its support to NPHCDA to promote vaccination against COVID-19.
The NPHCDA is responsible for issuing registration guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine deployment and vaccination in Nigeria.
“We are now hitting the two million mark for those who took the first dose of the vaccine and there is still a window of opportunity for those who want to take the first dose.
“However, we have already started the second dose and we hope that in the next few weeks we will have additional vaccines that will cover other Nigerians,” Shuaib said.
He highlighted the contributions of the NIFAA in disseminating information for the COVID-19 vaccination, and urged them not to give in.
“We recognize your long-standing work in the healthcare industry. You are relentless. Just as we celebrated the eradication of polio, we hope that we can continue to work together to eradicate COVID-19.
“This meeting is an opportunity to highlight the work that the association has done in collaboration with Caritas Nigeria to support the US CDC to produce promotional, educational and communication material on how religious leaders can use the seven key messages to convey information around COVID-19.
“NIFAA has played a major role in ensuring that vaccine information is properly disseminated and this is the same way we eradicated polio,” he added.
The NPHCDA boss listed the messages around life, hope, connections, healing and celebration as the seven key messages to convey information about COVID-19.
He noted that these messages must be conveyed using the influence of religious leaders to ensure that the correct information is conveyed to their adherents.
Earlier, Professor Onuoha assured that his team, belonging to the Christian and Muslim communities, would always encourage their faithful to be vaccinated through its various advocacy programs.
“The essence of our meeting today is that the federal government has committed itself to the hands of the Primary Health Care Development Agency for this immunization project and they need to go all over the place, community in Nigeria to do the vaccination.
“They have the mandate and we have the hearts of the people, therefore, we will communicate to the hearts of the people to accept the vaccination.
“It’s about collaboration and primary health care 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 think we will be successful as a team,” Onuoha said.
The clergyman urged Nigerians to get vaccinated because the vaccines were safe after being certified by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The visiting NIFAA team donated information, education and communication (IEC) materials to the boss of NPHCDA to deliver public health messages in the country.