COVID-19: How pregnant women would be vaccinated — FG

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The Federal Government has said that it would vaccinate approximately 109 million Nigerians, including pregnant women in two years against the novel COVID-19 pandemic.

The Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said this on Monday in Abuja at the joint national briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

READ: COVID-19 vaccines have certain amount of risk, Health Minister tells Nigerians

He said that government remain in anticipation of about 57million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility and the African Union (AU).

According to him, after excluding those that are under 18 years old, government plan to vaccinate approximately 109m Nigerians that will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination over the course of two years.

On how pregnant women would be vaccinated, Faisal said, “Working with the states, the Federal Government plans to vaccinate all eligible population from 18 years and above, including pregnant women. However, the decision to vaccinate any pregnant woman will be made in consultation with her healthcare provider.

“There will be considerations of whether she is at high risk of contracting Covid-19 or not. She is likely to be at high risk for example, if she is a frontline health worker, a support staff or a first responder in the different spheres of the security architecture of our country. This guidance is based on the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE).”

He said that additionally, the Federal Government has received the commitment of 1,500,000 and 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca from MTN and Government of India respectively.

He said that these eligible populations have been identified using the WHO vaccine allocation framework and prioritization roadmap, as well as the disease burden data from the NCDC.

He listed them as the frontline healthcare workers, support staff; including those that work in high-risk areas such as point of entry workers, rapid response teams, contact tracing teams, COVID-19 vaccination teams and strategic leadership.

Also are people aged 50 years and above; people aged 18-49 years with significant co-morbidities and additional at-risk groups.

He said, “In order to facilitate the implementation process, the TWG has come up with a strategy of pre-registration and scheduling of the target population to avoid over-crowding at vaccination posts. We have come up with a strategy called the TEACH approach, which will harness all the benefits of traditional, electronic, assisted and concomitant house-to-house registration to optimize the use of innovative technology.

“The TEACH approach entails, Traditional method of vaccinating target populations using desk review of available data sources, identifying the vaccination sites and rolling out; Electronic self-registration for health workers and the public; a link which provides an online form will be provided; Assisted electronic registration; concomitant e-registration during walk in to fixed sites/health facilities; and House-to-House registration using volunteers for additional push to rapidly increase the e-registration.”

He added that with the over 60,000 health workers providing routine immunization services nationwide, government recognize that the COVID-19 vaccine introduction certainly requires capacity building for this health workforce, but in addition to these, government would be engaging additional personnel, to achieve the coverage level we desire and also ensure best practices in vaccine handling and management.

He said, “As part of our risk communication and demand generation strategy, we organized a 2-day training for over 1,500 LGA health educators and Community Orientation Mobilization Officers (COMOs) of the National Orientation Agency, to enable them conduct community polling, track rumours and provide accurate information on COVIC-19 vaccine to community members.”

He therefore assured Nigerians that the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari through the PTF, is doing everything possible to mitigate the resultant complications of the COVID-19 on the nation’s health systems and economy.