By Chioma Obinna
As Lagos prepares to roll out its COVID vaccination programme, medical doctors in the state are demanding equity in the vaccination processes as well as strict adherence to the initial plans of vaccinating health workers and other front liners to ensure a hitch-free vaccination of all Lagosians.
In a chat with Vanguard in Lagos, the State Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Dr Adetunji Adenekan said the Association was yet to get notification from the state government on the modalities of the rollout of vaccines in the state.
Adenekan, however, said expectations were high even though health workers in the state, especially medical doctors have had their fair share of the impact of the pandemic since it broke out.
“We are happy that the vaccine doses have finally landed in Lagos because we have been waiting for this vaccine for too long. We are not sure of the number of doses but we expect that the modalities will follow the initial pattern of vaccinating the front liners and strategic leaders.
Lamenting that Lagos state was yet to map out strategies on the modalities of the roll-out, Adenekan disclosed that there should be some form of categorisation among the health workers as there are key health workers as front liners, followed by workers over 60 years as well as those with comorbidities and all other health workers.
“Even among health workers we have the front liners, health workers who are 60 and above, we have health workers who have comorbidities, and when they are through, all other health workers will follow.
“But there is no categorisation of whether a person is a doctor or another health worker. We expect equitable distribution and that the government will follow this pattern.
In a recommendation, Adenekan said there should be a classification of health workers.
“Like the front .liners, after them, we believe that they should give health workers who are 50 years and above. Health workers with comorbidities and then all health workers. We recommend that the rollout should follow that order.”
Noting that Lagos is the epicentre of the pandemic, he argued that it must be treated as such.
“We have the largest number of health workers in the population; even in the NMA, we are the largest zone that is why we are not just a branch but a zone. We had expected that we should have the largest number of vaccine doses.
“We are aware that there will soon be a flag off and they are trying to map out secondary centres apart from the primary health centres where some of the vaccinations can also be given. We insist that we should implement the plans for health workers. “
Stating that NMA should be a partner in progress with the state government, Adenekan said as stakeholders there should be direct communication.
“If there is a plan, we are yet to hear that. From what we are hearing they are going to map out some things tomorrow (today). We expect that these plans should have started since we have been expecting the vaccines to arrive. I believe we also need to improve on that aspect and make sure that all stakeholders are carried along especially in the health workforce.
He lamented that dates picked by some of their members in the state had expired as Lagos was yet to roll out vaccination.
“The state government should harmonise the process to ensure that all health workers are vaccinated,“ he said.
On his own part, the Lagos State NMA Secretary, Dr Imeh Okon who lamented the impact of the second wave infections on doctors in Lagos, said many of their colleagues lost their lives between November and now, hence the need to prioritise vaccination of health workers.
“Ordinarily one would have expected Lagos gets highest because yes, its the epicentre, and we have been the worst hit with COVID 19 casualties, especially amongst health care workers. Health workers are prioritised based on exposure.”