Lagos State Government has flagged off the COVID-19 Scales 0.3 Vaccination Campaign aimed at ramping up the records of the 25 percent profile of its population who have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
With the support of the Federal Government through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), for the provision of the vaccines, the state government called on citizens to avail themselves of the opportunity to safeguard themselves.
Lagos remains the epicentre of the pandemic since its inception in the country in February 2020.
As at the last figures by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Lagos accounts for 102,849 COVID-19 cases out of the country’s 262,664 since the pandemic in February 2020. Less than 3,000 of those cases are however still active.
At the flag-off ceremony on Tuesday in Ikeja, the state’s Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi said the Scales 0.3 was developed in collaboration with the national body “to further ramp-up COVID-19 vaccination coverage across Lagos State”.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Primary Health Care Board, Dr Ibrahim Akinwunmi Mustapha, Abayomi said: “This is meant to be a three month can-do strategy that will accelerate COVID-19 vaccination in the State and will focus on the integrated efforts of the State’s work plans”.
According to him, it would build on “lessons learnt, challenges and recommendations for state specific engagements to address the identified implementation gap of Scales 0.2 and promptly promote accountability for performance”.
He said while the Scales 0.2 was of benefit that vitalised routine immunisation processes in the state, the Scales 0.3 would build on the feat.
According to Abayomi, those who are yet to have any of the dose – first, second, and booster – can come forth for the same, while those whose last bolster dose was four months ago can also take a second bolster dose.
“At the core of this campaign, we need to strengthen vaccine equity to ensure that every resident of Lagos State has a fair and equal chance to fully access the vaccine, regardless of who they are and where they are from, which is key to seeing the unbearable impact of COVID-19 pandemic reduced to the minimum”, he said.
He disclosed that mobile teams would be engaged to get to residents that might not have the opportunity to visit the fixed post for their vaccinations.
The Commissioner called for the support of all stakeholders, particularly at the grassroots to put hands on deck to encourage eligible residents above 18 years “to get themselves vaccinated”.
He said that residents from 12 years above can seek to be vaccinated with conditions that they have valid evidence of travelling abroad for schooling with an admission letter.
Acknowledging that the state remains the epicentre of the pandemic since February 2020 when it was discovered in Nigeria, Abayomi said that, to mitigate the scourge of the virus, several strategies instituted including lockdown, increased rate of PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) testing capacity, identification of strains of the virus, improvement of provision of medical oxygen across the state, expansion of isolation capacity, have proven their potency in managing the virus.
According to him, from 15 March 2021 when vaccination campaign started in the state to 9 August 2022, the state has vaccinated 2,022,523 persons for the first dose (representing 25.2 percent of the population), 1,587,554 with second dose (19.6 percent of the target) and 141,855 with bolster dose.
“With the full understanding that substantial proportion of our population must be vaccinated to reduce the impact of the ongoing wave of the COVID-19 virus, and prevent the real emergency of catastrophic events which have been witnessed during the previous waves, the State has developed robust vaccination strategy leveraging on both the strength of public-private partnership”, he said.
According to him, the significance of mustering efforts on vaccination is informed by the need to avoid a breakdown of the economy
“One of the major driving forces we have in the development of our strategy is the protection of our economy. We don’t want, at any time, the economy to be closed down for anything. We intend for the economy to continue to open for business. That has been our focus in Lagos”, the Commissioner said.
He appreciated all partners, reassuring that “COVID-19 vaccines are safe and present the best option for eradicating the pandemic as of now”.
On monkey pox, which was declared a disease of public health emergency of international concern on 27 July, Abayomi said the state had taken a lot of proactive measures by training disease surveillance officers across the State for prompt testing of suspected cases of money pox and has adequately made funds available for the purpose.
He said that with the nature of the transmission of the virus which can’t be prevented by washing of hands and sanitiser, it was only important for people to avoid close skin-to-skin contact with people who have rashes and ensure cleaning and disinfecting surfaces frequently touched.
Representing the World Health Organisation, the COVID-19 Vaccination Coordination and RI Focal Person, Sherifat Lawal said tha, although Lagos has reached a remarkable stretch of covering over 25 percent of her population, more needed to be done to ramp-up the number.
According to her, the WHO would always be available to give support to the state as partners for the process.
Representing Red Cross, the Branch Secretary for Lagos State, Azeez Olakunle said the organisation would embark on jingles from August to December with volunteers embarking on mobilisation campaigns at market and campuses to get more Lagosians vaccinated.
He recalled that although such efforts had been replicated nationwide, the record of the turnout in Lagos was positive against that of other states.
The Country Director of USAID-funded MOMENTUM Routine Immunisation Transformation and Equity, Dr Yakubu Cherima said the state has done considerably well in terms of COVID-19 vaccinations with a record of 25 percent, against other states, some of which have below five percent.
He called for more responsibility, pledging the support of his organisation to achieve the goals.
The Baale of Marine Beach, who is the Chairman for Grassroots Mobilisation Committee for COVID-19 Vaccination in Lagos, Chief (Dr) Joseph Omobolanle said the mobilisation committee would use “all might” to ensure sensitisation goes around all Lagos.
Assuring of “mobilisation of no comparison” above past records, he said the committee members are resolute to work day and night, promising “our unflinching support is pledged”.