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FG TASKS FAITH LEADERS ON COVID-19 VACCNATON

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…..Takes vaccination to worship centres

AKOR SYLVESTER-Abuja

 

 

Federal government yesterday urged Christian Leaders across the country to intensify efforts in sensitising their followers on the need to take COVID-19 vaccine in order for them to achieve herd immunity against the virus in the country.

 

This is as it informed that it has assigned the COVID-19 vaccination teams to Christian worship centres to boost the vaccination exercise.

 

The Minister of Health,  Osagie Ehanire who spoke at the Sensitisation of Christian  Leaders on Phase 2 COVID-19 Vaccination and Primary Health Care in Nigeria, in Abuja Tuesday, urged the faith leaders to educate their followers and people of the same faith on the need to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

He said the followers and worshipers of Christ believe in their leaders and listen to them,  enjoining them to sensitise them, using their position in the church community, on the safety of the vaccine.

 

Maintaining that COVID-19 has no respect for religion, the Minister who was represented at the occasion by the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, urged the forum to come out with workable solutions that would help the country in taming the spread of the virus in the country.

 

Speaking, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib commended the Christian Leaders for their efforts in assisting the government in advocacy on the importance of the COVID-19 vaccination.

 

He said efforts of the religious leaders have yeilded reasonable result  in the fight against the scourge of the pandemic,  urging them to sustain the feat.

 

The NPHCDA boss informed that the agency has commenced Sunday vaccination at the workshop centres.

 

According to him, the development was to enable Christians that did not have the opportunity to go to the vaccination centres to take their vaccination at the church premises.

 

“Christian Leaders across the country have been formidable pillars of support in all our primary health care interventions. 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 program when we were battling with high rate of refusals to vaccination due to rumours and misinformation. Suffice to say that the Christian community contributed immensely to our achieving wild polio virus 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.

 

“Today, I am not surprised that in its typical humanitarian characteristic, most Christian leaders have been in the forefront of promoting adherence to COVID-19 prevention protocols and vaccination since the beginning of this pandemic. We appreciate and acknowledge all our Christian leaders who have through their sermons and public pronouncements, motivated the Christian community to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community.

 

“As you are aware, the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination roll out is currently ongoing across the country in all States and Local Government Areas. The vaccines are safe and are administered free of charge to all eligible persons 18 years and above. I would like to inform you that the AstraZeneca vaccine is now available to be administered as first dose as well as second dose for those who received their first dose during the 1st phase of the vaccine roll out which closed in July.

 

“Your Eminence, the CAN President, distinguished Christian leaders, ladies, and gentlemen, I am glad to inform you that from this Phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine roll out, we have introduced Sunday Vaccination. This is to ensure members of the Christian community who may not have had access to the vaccine for whatever reason are given an opportunity to be vaccinated at their worship places. 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.

 

“Also, working with the States, we have made special arrangement for corporate vaccination.  This is for eligible staff of Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), Private/corporate organizations, including Faith-based organizations, their family members, dependants, and retirees to be vaccinated at their convenience. Please visit www.nphcda.gov.ng to access the registration portal.

 

“I am glad to inform you that we continue to monitor for side effects of the vaccines and as it is common with all vaccines there have been reports of mild to moderate reactions. This is normal with any vaccination, and we are working with NAFDAC to keep a close watch on all of those who have been vaccinated for any unlikely case of serious adverse effect”.

 

Assuring that the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Health and NPHCDA is committed to providing safe, effective, and free vaccines to ensure that the country stop the transmission of this deadly virus, the Executive Director said the agency will sustain regular updates to critical stakeholders such as the Christian community through the Christian Association of Nigeria and other credible platforms.

 

He said the meeting was in line with the strategic approach of mobilizing the communities for vaccination to ensure effective participation and collaboration in the planning, decision making and implementation processes.

 

He said:, “this is to equip the faith community with credible information on the COVID-19 vaccination rollout”.

 

The Executive Director expressed worry over what he described as rumour and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine, enjoining the leaders to educate the people on the efficacy of the vaccine.

 

“Your excellency, Your Eminence, distinguished Christian leaders, ladies, and gentlemen, one of the challenges to our collective desire to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic is rumour and misinformation, including among a few in the Christian community.

 

“This has resulted in vaccine hesitancy across all States of the Federation, a behaviour which puts the lives of individuals and our communities at great risk.

 

“Nevertheless, the Federal Government is encouraged by your presence at this meeting today as we are confident that with more systematic support from the faith community, we shall successfully vaccinate all eligible Nigerians as scheduled so that we can return to our normal way of life including the ways we worship and show care for our brethren”,.

 

He urged everyone in the hall that was yet to be vaccinated and those that were yet to receive their second dose of AstraZeneca to kindly ensure they receive their vaccine as they step out of thehall.

 

According to him, “this is how you protect yourself against COVID-19 including the delta variant0”.

 

He further advised those who were fully vaccinated to continue to observe all COVID-19 prevention protocols including wearing face masks, maintaining hand hygiene and observing physical distancing until the Country vaccinates all eligible population and achieves herd immunity.

 

On his part, the Executive Director, Nigerian Inter Faith Action Association and President, Vision Africa, Bishop Sunday Onuoha, said the church has the responsibility of protecting their worshipers and guide them on the right direction.

 

He said the Christian leaders will continue to speak to the Christian community on the need to protect themselves against the pandemic, while commending federal government for taking vaccination to the church premises.

 

Stating that, taking the vaccination to the worship centres does not make it compulsory for the worshipers to be vaccinated, the Executive Director said it was the duty of the Christian leaders to ensure that the people take the vaccine.

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