By Samuel Luka, Bauchi
A Non-governmental organization, Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) said it has uncovered various factors hindering the successful administration of COVID-19 vaccination in Six states of Nigeria.
Addressing a press conference at the Nigeria Union of Journalists Secretariate, Bauchi state Council on Thursday, the Coordinator, Public Education on COVID-19 project of CITAD, Hamza Ibrahim said that the aim of the project was to create awareness on the COVID-19 vaccine to get it accepted by members of the public.
According to him, CITAD is carrying out the project with support from MacArthur Foundation in six states of the north which include Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna, Kogi, Kano and Plateau.
“The project is aimed at creating awareness around COVID-19 vaccine with a view to getting acceptance and uptake of the vaccine by people. In all the six states CITAD works with partners from different backgrounds and professions to enlighten people on the need to take the vaccine”, he said.
The NGO said, “having monitored COVID-19 vaccine administration in the six project states for the last two months, we are displeased to note that we have identified both general and specific issues that are hindering uptake of the vaccine”.
Hamza said those factors identified are further risking the efforts at addressing the pandemic. “This we must say is unfortunate particularly at a time when new variants of the virus are emerging”.
The NGO which lamented that misinformation about COVID-19 vaccine is still prevalent, also regretted that state governments are in some ways aiding non acceptance of the vaccine by not fully supporting the vaccination exercise.
They alleged that people who want to be vaccinated are required by the vaccination officials to make payments for their details to be captured and uploaded online on the national register, this we particularly found happening in Kogi state.
“The issue of requesting people to make payments to be vaccinated will not only hamper the vaccination exercise but make people to stay away from taking the vaccine, and this potentially renders more people insecure.
The NGO said it has also discovered a serious lack of coordination in the vaccine distribution by agencies responsible within the healthcare chain.
“While in Borno state, people going for second doses of Astrazeneca and Moderna were told the vaccines are not available, in Plateau state 45,288 doses of Pfizer had to be recalled after distribution to local communities for nearing expiration”, they further revealed.
CITAD said visits to some vaccination spots in Plateau unveiled the non availability of the vaccines, adding that lack of proper coordination is causing delay in accessing the vaccine by the vaccination spots.
“For example in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, State Primary Health Development Agency supplies the vaccination centres with the vaccines without the involvement of the local government concerned” the center said.
It added: “in exhaustion of the vaccines the centres usually are forced into confusion as local government usually makes a case that they are supplied the vaccines by the SPHCDA therefore they should not request from it. This effect of improper coordination put people on hold unnecessarily”.
CITAD expressed fears that the identified challenges if not addressed quickly will reinforce the misconception and fake news in circulation about the vaccine which will sabotage the efforts geared towards containing the virus and addressing the pandemic in general.
Other hinderances according to CITAD include lack of will from top government officials-that further reinforces impression people have on the vaccine, lack of proper coordination in vaccine administration and distribution
Some are, absence of vaccination spots at gathering places such as Mosques, churches, banks, vaccination spots mounted at distant locations, lack of support of opinion leaders, fear for expired vaccines in use, inaccessibility of the vaccines in rural communities, nonpayment of vaccine administrators’ allowances, among others.
The NGO appealed to Kogi state governor to immediately put a stop to “pay to get vaccinated” by providing data and other form of supports vaccine administrators in the state
They called on the state governors concerned to urgently address the problems as well as examine the vaccination channel in their respective states to have a broader view of the identified problems and deploy the needed mechanisms.
CITAD while urging the public to disregard misconceptions and false narratives around COVID-19 and to get vaccinated, appealed to State Primary Healthcare Development Agencies in the six states to review their operation manual to ensure proper coordination for effective vaccination exercise.