The Lagos State Government on Wednesday unveiled a mass vaccination campaign, as part of the strategies to stave off the re-emergence of the COVID-19 viral infection.
Speaking during the unveiling, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said the objective is aimed at vaccinating four million residents in Lagos before the end of 2021.
The accelerated vaccine rollout is tagged: “Operation Count Me in 4 Million Lagosians Vaccinated Against COVID-19”, and it is undertaken by the Lagos State Government in collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).
Mr Sanwo-Olu said there was the possibility of the fourth wave of COVID-19, as the Yuletide approaches.
He, therefore, said that residents of Lagos, who are 18 years and above, are eligible to be fully immunised with the COVID-19 vaccine.
The governor said the mass vaccination campaign would help bolster the state’s response to the emerging threat posed by the pandemic.
Mr Sanwo-Olu said the joint committee set up by the Lagos State Government and NPHCDA to oversee the implementation of the campaign would be opening vaccination sites in high traffic locations as part of the strategies to expand vaccine access in underserved communities.
He said that mobile vans would be deployed to move around boundary settlements, in order to reach individuals in areas with limited access to health facilities.
“There is potential for a fourth wave of COVID-19, as our borders would be opened to all people coming into Lagos in December.
“To prevent the catastrophic events we witnessed in the previous waves, the state has developed a robust vaccination drive, leveraging on both the strengths we have in the public and private sectors of our healthcare system.
“In (the) development of our strategy and counter-measures, we prioritise the protection of human lives and keeping our economy open for business.
“To mitigate against this potential damage that will further spread existing variants of COVID-19 in the state, and accelerate efforts towards herd immunity, the need for a different strategy becomes a front-burner issue.
“This is what has culminated in the campaign, tagged ‘Count Me In! 4 million Lagosians Vaccinated Against COVID-19’, to target the full vaccination of 4 million Lagos residents before the end of December 2021.
“Once achieved, this will bring the State closer to reaching our promise to vaccinate 30 per cent of our population within one year,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The governor said that since March when Lagos started its vaccination programme, the state has successfully vaccinated 800,000 residents with the first dose of Moderna vaccine and 310,000 persons fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca vaccine.
He said the total number of residents vaccinated with the first dose of either AstraZeneca or Moderna is 1.2 million.
Mr Sanwo-Olu said this raised the number of fully vaccinated individuals to 550,000, which accounted for about 4 per cent of the state’s population.
He re-emphasised that the vaccines being administered are safe and remains free of charge in public health facilities.
Mr Sanwo-Olu, however, said that an administrative charge of N6,000 would be paid by individuals who wish to get the vaccines at approved private facilities.
The governor charged stakeholders, including the local council chairmen, to mobilise for participation in the programme and ensure the success of the campaign.
“We have set up COVID-19 vaccination in all our 205 public primary health centres, 14 of the state’s secondary and tertiary hospitals, and we are hoping that this partnership can be implemented in over 400 private health centres across seven underserved Local Government Areas in the state.
“Let me re-emphasise that we are not compelling anyone to get vaccinated. But, we want everyone to take it as personal responsibility, which is highly important.
“What we seek to achieve by this campaign is to ensure there is access to the vaccines and availability. Then, give people an opportunity to get vaccinated at centres close to them. This will give nobody a reason not to get the vaccines,” he said.
The Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi, said that the vaccination campaign is ambitious, adding that the state government has put in place two-pronged approaches to prevent the fourth wave of the pandemic.
“The first step is to control the in-bound flight passengers and maintain adherence to all preventive measures that have been put in place, while the second step is to closely monitor the isolation of those coming from the red zone area,” Mr Abayomi said.
The NPHCDA Executive Director, Shuaib Faisal, said that only 2,950,232 Nigerians had been fully vaccinated, which was a far cry from reaching the target number for herd immunity.
“We have enough vaccines in storage to give many people the opportunity to get vaccinated. We now have the jabs, but we now need the arms,” Mr Faisal said.