The Lagos State government has raised an alarm over the possibility of a fourth wave of COVID-19 as the Yuletide approaches.
In a bid to tackle the re-emergence of the viral infection, the government launched a mass vaccination campaign aimed at vaccinating four million residents in Lagos before the end of the year.
The state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who launched the campaign on Wednesday at an event in Victoria Island said residents from 18 years and above were eligible to be fully immunised with the COVID-19 vaccine.
“There is potential for the fourth wave of COVID-19 as our borders would be opened to all people coming into Lagos in December,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile.
“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 became 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 four 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.”
The accelerated vaccine rollout is being undertaken by the state government in collaboration with National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).
Governor Sanwo-Olu believes the mass vaccination campaign would help bolster the State’s response to the emerging threat posed by the pandemic.
He said the joint committee set up by the 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.
Mobile vans, the Governor added, would be deployed to move around boundary settlements in order to reach individuals in areas with limited access to health facilities.
According to him, Lagos has successfully vaccinated 800,000 residents with the first dose of Moderna vaccine and 310,000 persons fully vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine since it started its vaccination programme in March.
This, he said, sums a total number of residents vaccinated with the first dose of either AstraZeneca or Moderna to 1.2 million, while raising the number of fully vaccinated individuals to 550,000, which accounts for about four per cent of the state’s population.
Governor Sanwo-Olu re-emphasised that the vaccines being administered were safe and remained free of charge in public health facilities.
He, however, explained that an administrative charge of N6,000 would be paid by individuals who wish to get the vaccines at approved private facilities.
The governor called on all 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 second 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,” he said.
“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.”
In his remarks, NPHCDA Executive Director, Dr Shuaib Faisal, disclosed that only 2,950,232 Nigerians had been fully vaccinated.
According to him, this is 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.”