Spurred by it’s desire to achieve herd immunity against the Covid-19 virus, the Federal government has launched the second phase of it’s SCALES mass vaccination strategy, alongside the Johnson and Johnson single dose vaccine and a mobile phone app to assist in locating vaccination sites near the seeker.
The launching ceremony chaired by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire held in Abuja on Tuesday, February 22, 2022.
TheFact Nigeria gathered that unavailability of vaccines when needed, was hampering the progress of the Covid-19 vaccination program in the country.
To this, the Minister disclosed that there was enough vaccines; upto 40million doses in the country. as the government recently procured 38 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines.
The Health Boss noted that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) introduced the SCALES strategy in November 2021 to rapidly ramp up COVID-19 vaccine coverage by expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines outside the health facility.
He added that SCALES was an acronym for Service delivery, Communication, Accountability, Logistics, Electronic reporting, and Supportive supervision for the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination. Through this strategy,
mass vaccination sites were established at public places such as markets, parks, shopping malls, schools, mosques, and churches.
He however, lamented that, although the SCALES strategy had proven to be quite effective in ramping up COVID-19 vaccination coverage, the proportion of fully vaccinated Nigerians was still very low, partly because we had been using two-dose vaccines. He said:
“Unfortunately, most people are reluctant to take their second dose for various reasons including fear of a repeat of the mild side effects they may have experienced with the first dose. The federal government, through NPHCDA, continues to strive to make COVID-19 Vaccination more accessible to the people. I am glad that every Nigerian can now be guided to the nearest COVID-19 vaccination site, from the comfort of their homes and from their phones”, he noted.
The Health Czar posited that there was a unique opportunity to leverage the SCALES strategy using COVID-19 vaccination structures and resources to improve Routine Immunization (RI) coverage, with improved efficiency and reduced duplication of efforts by health care workers.
Therefore, he noted that it was imperative to launch the SCALES 2.0 Strategy, which entails the integration of COVID-19 vaccination with childhood routine immunization for eligible adults 18 years and above and children 0 to 2 years respectively, leveraging Mass Vaccination Campaigns, Routine Immunization Fixed sessions, Outreach services and Mobile services:
“This means that all childhood vaccination, including administration of vitamin A, will now be done alongside COVID-19 vaccination at COVID-19 vaccination sites. Eligible children will now be able to receive their BCG, Penta 3, OPV 3, OPV 1&2, Measles, Yellow Fever vaccines, as well as Vitamin A supplement, at the sites where the adults receive COVID-19 vaccines.
“Let me assure Nigerians that we have adequate stock of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, as we have over 30 million doses in stock. I call on all eligible persons that are yet to receive their vaccination to go to the nearest COVID-19 vaccination site and get vaccinated. This single dose offers the same protection you get from two doses of AstraZeneca, Pfizer Bio-N-Tech and Moderna vaccines.
“Also, I encourage those who have received their first dose of AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer vaccines to ensure they take their second dose when due, to be fully vaccinated and protected”, Ehanire said.
Global Lead Coordinator for Covid Vaccine Readiness and Delivery, Dr. Ted Chaiban said the launch of the new strategy could help vaccinate 50million Nigerians by June 2022, this, he added could be achieved through accountability from each state, performance tracking and follow up on those who had taken their first dose to come for the second. He added that the SCALES 2.0 gives an opportunity to Nigerians to get it right, reiterating the support of development partners to help Nigeria meet it’s vaccination target.
Other dignitaries at the ceremony included: World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa Regional Director, Dr. Moeti Matsido, WHO Nigeria Country Representative, Dr. Walter Kazadi Muloumbo, Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, Director General, Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib among others.
The public can visit www.vacsitefinder.nphcda.gov.ng on their mobile phones to locate vaccination sites near them.