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Nigerians soon to get COVID-19 shots at doorsteps, says FG

From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

Federal Government, yesterday, launched the SCALES 3.0 national strategy programme designed to facilitate COVID-19 vaccination and other routine immunisation across the country using the platform of the Primary Health Care (PHC) Centres.

It explained that SCALES 3.0 is an evidence-based update that fixes the bugs in SCALES 2.0 and uses human-centered demand generation design to address low COVID-19 risk perception in the country.

It added that the strategy retains integration of COVID-19 vaccination with other PHC services, but uses an implementation approach that seeks to address bottlenecks on service delivery, communication, accountability, logistics, and supportive supervision from bottom-up and state specific contexts.

However, in the new initiative, COVID-19 vaccination would further be scaled down from hitherto PHCs centres to the doorsteps of Nigerians who are yet to take COVID-19 and other relevant vaccines.

Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, told journalists in Abuja, that the new steps was fall out of recent review of the successes of SCALES 2.0 launched in February, 2022, to ramp up COVID-19 vaccination coverage.

He said: “The new strategy is an improvement from the previous one. We reviewed the performance of states vis-a-vis the bottlenecks and successes, and decided that there are specifics things that need to be added to the effort to improve vaccination.

“SCALE 3.0 thus recommended that we move vaccines from PHCs to settlements, and in some cases, doorsteps. We are also using the platform of the new initiative to provide second dose of the booster jabs to eligible Nigerians.”

Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, in his remarks expressed optimism that SCALES 3.0 strategy will address the identified implementation gaps in SCALES 2.0, and also promote accountability for performance, strengthen electronic data reporting and robust demand generation at the community levels.

He confirmed that Nigeria has continued to experience changes in factors that influence demand and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, and these changing situations are not uniform across the country, as they vary from state to state, and therefore require continuous review of strategies for promoting demand and ensuring vaccine access and accountability.

He said: “In February 2022, we launched optimized SCALES 2.0 strategy, which even though, has proven to be effective in ramping up COVID-19 vaccination coverage, but the proportion of fully vaccinated Nigerians is still low when compared to the set target. The record of only 24.4 per cent of the total eligible population of fully vaccinated as at 3rd August, 2022 leaves much to be desired.”

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in his submissions described COVID-19 vaccine as a civic responsibility of every Nigerian, hence no one should be left behind in the effort to protect and safeguard the health of Nigerians.

He frowned at Nigerians poor adherence to non-pharmaceutial measures against COVID-19, especially the use of facemask, and warmed that COVID-19 is still much present in Nigeria, and it remains a formidable threat to the collective health and wellbeing of Nigerians.

“We need to take necessary measures to protect ourselves against COVID-19, and take advantage of integrated services to access care in our health facilities and other designated locations.”

He reassured Nigerians that the Federal Government remains committed to the provision of safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccines in the country backed with accountability and transparency.

“Every COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria is tagged and tracked by National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), to ensure quality and potency are maintained across the supply chain.

“We are fully guided by the principle of safety, efficacy, transparency, and accountability in the mass vaccination campaign. No vaccine will be allowed to enter any vaccination site without due authentication and safety verification, and we would never compromise on vaccine safety and vaccination standards,” he promised.

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