COVID-19 Vaccination: Be role models to your followers, Government urges religious leaders
Gloria Essien, Abuja
The Nigerian Government has urged Christian Religious Leaders to be role models to their followers by leading in the campaign for vaccination.
The minister of state for health, Senator Adeleke Mamora, gave the advice at a “Sensitisation of Christian Leaders on Phase Two COVID-19 Vaccination and Primary Healthcare in Nigeria” held in Abuja.
He said that the Nigeria national response will not be effective if religious leaders are not carried along.
” The Christian community must be in the forefront of supporting all health initiatives. In fact the Christian community is known for high uptake of vaccines. But we must ask ourselves why is it becoming weird with COVID-19? Why are some of the leaders falling prey to misinformation and rumours? Are there things that we are not doing right? I believe these questions and more are areas we hope to answer in the course of our discussions” Senator Mamora said.
He also said that the COVID-19 vaccination and other vaccinations in Nigeria are meant to protect the citizens from vaccine preventable diseases.
The minister noted that people perish for lack of knowledge and appealed to the Christian leaders to continue education and sensitise their followers on the importance of the COVID-19 Vaccine.
While commending the Christian leaders on their commitment to the well being of their followers, the US CDC Nigeria Country Director, Mary Boyd, said that continuous sensitization should be a norm.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency. (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib appreciated the unflinching support of the Christian leaders to the Federal Ministry of Health, the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency and the Government of Nigeria in general.
“Christian Leaders across the country have been formidable pillars of support in all our primary health care interventions. I am aware that in the States and LGAs, representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria are strong and committed members of the State and LGA Task Forces on Immunization. These ambassadors have contributed immensely to confidence building and trust in Government led public health programs, especially in the days of the Nigeria polio eradication program when we were battling with high rate of refusals to vaccination due to rumours and misinformation. Suffice to say that the Christian community contributed immensely to our achieving wild polio virus certification last year and indeed our sustaining the country’s polio free status for over a year now. We are most grateful as a people and Government”. Dr. Shuaib said.
He said that he was not surprised that in its typical humanitarian characteristic, most Christian leaders have been in the forefront of promoting adherence to COVID-19 prevention protocols and vaccination since the beginning of this pandemic.
“We appreciate and acknowledge all our Christian leaders who have through their sermons and public pronouncements, motivated the Christian community to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community.As you are aware, the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination roll out is currently ongoing across the country in all States and Local Government Areas. The vaccines are safe and are administered free of charge to all eligible persons 18 years and above. I would like to inform you that the AstraZeneca vaccine is now available to be administered as first dose as well as second dose for those who received their first dose during the 1st phase of the vaccine roll out which closed in July”. He noted.
He also said that Sunday vaccination will be commencing soon in churches to enable more Christians to get vaccinated.
“I am glad to inform you that from this Phase 2 of the COVID-19 vaccine roll out, we have introduced Sunday Vaccination. This is to ensure members of the Christian community who may not have had access to the vaccine for whatever reason are given an opportunity to be vaccinated at their worship places. I must say that feedback from the field is very encouraging and I sincerely thank all Christian leaders who have given the vaccination team access to their churches and their members to receive COVID-19 vaccine during Sunday services”. He added.
Speaking on behalf of the Christian Leaders, the Executive Director, Nigeria Inter Faith Action Association, Dr. Sunday Onuorah, said that as pulpit managers, religious leaders are in a good position to influence people’s decisions and actions.
He said that the people trust and believe in them always and that they would use their offices to promote government policies and programmes especially in the area of COVID-19 vaccination.
The Director General of the National Orientation Agency, Mr. Garba Abari, promised to join the Christian leaders in cascading the vaccination message to all corners of Nigeria