Centre for Information Technology And Development (CITAD) has identified numerous reasons responsible for COVID-19 Vaccine hesitancy and poor uptake of the Vaccines in Nigeria especially some States in Northern Nigeria.
CITAD in conjunction with the MacArthur Foundation is presently implementing a public education on COVID-19 Vaccine Projects with implementing partners in five States which are Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Plateau and Kogi States.
The project is aimed at creating awareness on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 Vaccine, sensitize the public on fake news, false/misleading narratives misinformation and disinformation being disseminated about the vaccine with an overall goal of achieving increase in Vaccine uptake and reduce drastically hesitancy among the public.
It is in trying to achieve the objectives of the project that CITAD partnered MacArthur Foundation engaged the Nineteen (19) Executive Secretaries of the Primary Health Care Development Board (PHCDB) in Abuja on 13th April, 2022 to have better comprehension of the challenges and hindrances associated with the adminstration of the Vaccine in order to proffer workable and practical solutions to overcome same.
At the meeting, various challenges and hindrances related to the vaccination were identified, discussed exhaustively with recommendations aimed at mitigating the challenges made to boost vaccine uptake.
Some of those challenges identified were absence of political will, commitment and the required support to Primary Health Care Development Boards; poor knowledge of vaccine storage, usage, expiration etc; high deployment of vaccination personnel in urban areas at the expense of rural areas which in most cases have no personnel to administering vaccine; vaccine not supplied in timely manner; technical failure in capturing people’s data; depositing vaccination funds at State Ministries if Health instead of the Primary Health Care Development Boards to address the bureaucratic bottlenecks; inaccessibility of vaccination funds owing to not centralizing funding source; difficulty in conducting vaccination in security affected States and areas; transportation of vaccines and vaccination personnel to hard-to-reach areas; delay and nonpayment of allowances of vaccination personnel; Health Workers hesitancy towards COVID-19 Vaccine and them discouraging others; absence of performance and reward mechanism on vaccination exercise at Federal, State and Local Government levels thereby not motivating vaccination personnel; passing information and communication in a fragmented manner to Primary Health Care Development Boards; etc.
After thorough deliberations at the meeting, stakeholders recommended certain measures to subdue the challenges.
CITAD is therefore making the following recommendations in line with the thoughts of Stakeholders: call on State Governors to demonstrate strong political will and commitment to addressing the myriad of challenges that is bedevilling the mass vaccination effort; communication among healthcare agencies in the States should be coordinated and centralized; States should leverage on social gatherings such as markets, ceremonies should be targeted for mass vaccination; State governments should identify hard-to-reach areas and treat them with logistical peculiarities they possesses; Payments of allowances of vaccination personnel should be given priority and always be made on time, nonpayment of past allowances of the personnel should be settled immediately; Senior officers such as Directors should be engaged in the vaccination exercise and be made to handle certain areas and be rotated at not more than two weeks interval.
Other recommendations include Marginalized groups should be specifically targeted in the vaccination exercise; the adhoc staff engaged in the vaccination exercise should be continuously trained on the vaccine; there should be a blueprint detailing reward and punishment for the vaccination personnel; healthcare workers should be provided with motivation packages to encourage them be active and committed in the COVID19 vaccination exercise.
It will be recalled that CITAD with support from MacArthur Foundation held similar engagement with the Health Commissioners of the Nineteen (19) Northern States on 8th February, 2022 at Abuja.
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