By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA–BEGINNING from next Sunday, COVID-19 vaccinations would be administered in churches during service,the National Primary Health Care Development Agency,NPHCDA, has said.
The initiative,the agency explained,was aimed at ensuring that more persons receive the vaccinations at their convenience.
NPHCDA’s Executive Director,,Dr. Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this, Tuesday, during a meeting with the leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria,CAN,in Abuja.
To this end,he begged church leaders to call their members to be administered the vaccine.
Dr Shuaib,while hailing Christian leaders whom he described as formidable pillars of support in all primary health care interventions in the country, said they were instrumental to the eradication of the Wild Polio Virus (WPV) and the current free polio status of Nigeria.
“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 said.
The NPHCDA’s boss added:“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 local government areas, 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 program when we were battling with high rate of refusals to vaccination due to rumours and misinformation,”he further said.
He said 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 would be vaccinated at their convenience.
On his part,Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora who made an appeal to Nigerians to
reciprocate the efforts of government by accessing the vaccines provided, said there was need to access the right based knowledge, signs, data and evidence.
According to him,”The Federal Government is doing its part by giving the vaccines but the onus lays on us to recognise what they are doing by recognising the need to access the vaccines and the various vaccination points across the country.”
Mamora added:”We need to exhaust what we have and it is when people come out and take these vaccines that we can ask for more because we don’t want any wastage.”
Also speaking at the occasion,Director General, National Orientation Agency,NOA, Mr. Garba Abari, assured that he would join the Christian leaders in spreading the vaccination message to the grassroots across the country.
“All hands must be on deck. We have felt the role of religious leaders absolutely unquantifiable in taking the advocacy messages to the grassroots using the religious platforms,”he said.
Speaking on behalf of the Christian Leaders,
Bishop Sunday Onuoha stressed the Importance of clerics in cascading messages of vaccine acceptability down to their teeming members through the power of the pulpit, while also addressing the issues of fake news and misinformation.
Onuoha who is Executive Director, Nigeria Inter Faith Action Association, explained that the gathering was expanded to accommodate clerics and leaders of the christian faith community not under the five blocs of CAN, to other christian faith, as they have millions of followers whose mindset towards the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines could equally be impacted join
“Faith leaders have the capacity and moral authority; people believe in the pastors and leaders and with these group of people, we can do so much within the christian community and the church in partnership with the government will make our people smile.”