COVID-19 Vaccine: NPHCDA set to decentralize vaccine to private health care in Nigeria

MINA Blog- The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said it has commenced decentralization of COVID-19 vaccine to private health care providers in order to expand access to utilization of COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria

NPHCDA Executive Director, Dr Faisal Shuaib who disclosed this during a press conference on the outcome of COVID-19 Vaccination exercise in the country, said the decentralization will not affect the Federal Government’s free vaccination policy.

According to him, COVID-19 vaccines will be administered free of charge at both government and private health facilities and the vaccination cards should be given free of charge after vaccination.

He said, “We acknowledge the fact that private health facilities may need to charge for their hospital registration cards which is different from the COVID-19 vaccination cards.

“Let me quickly assure you that NPHCDA is putting measures in place to ensure close and effective monitoring and supervision of any participating private health facilities to ensure standards are not compromised. Interested private health facilities will be required to meet certain criteria including having the requisite qualified health care workers, among others.

To ensure that the vaccines are delivered by private health facilities as expected, we will be engaging in regular supervisory visits to the facilities and will be providing clear rules of engagement to the participating facilities.

“We solicit your support as the watchdogs of society, to ensure that this decentralization does not compromise the current high quality of our COVID-19 vaccination programme. Any erring facilities will be sanctioned, including blacklisting.”

The NPHCDA boss also said the agency was set to ramp up COVID-19 vaccine uptake by putting in place plans for the establishment of mass vaccination site across the country.

The objective of this strategy, he said, “Is to vaccinate a high volume of individuals through large sites such as Federal institutions (universities, polytechnics),shopping malls, religious centers, sporting events, conference centers, and markets etc. This will require strong collaboration between NPHCDA, State Governments, religious bodies, school authorities and governing bodies of malls and large sporting events.

As we expand the vaccination sites, we encourage all eligible Nigerians to avail themselves for vaccination. I am also glad to inform you that we have commenced the process of decentralizing COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria, to include private health care providers. This is to expand access and increase utilization of the vaccines.

“To ensure a seamless decentralization, we have begun thetraining of health workers in the selected private health care facilities and the sensitization of critical stakeholders to create awareness and sensitize them on the plan and the criteria for involving private sector in COVID-19 vaccination and secure their buy-in. The process of involving the private sector will be transparently done in line with our pledge of accountability to Nigerians.”

He said a study was carried out by the NPHCDA in six states of the Federation (Anambra, Borno, Edo, Katsina, Lagos and Plateau), with the aim of monitoring the safety of COVID-19 Vaccines in Nigeria for the purpose of safety signal detection.

“ This study was led by Prof Akin Osibogun, a Professor of Community Medicine at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. The study sought to estimate the incidence of adverse events following immunization with different brands of the COVID-19 vaccine in all enrolled immunized subjects.

“ Findings of this study showed that 52.6% of enrolees (1,284 were enrolled) reported non-serious adverse effects and only 1 subject or 0.08% reported serious adverse effect in the first week following vaccination. None of the enrolled subjects who reported adverse effects required hospitalization.

The commonest reported symptoms among vaccinees were tenderness at injection site 20.9% and fever 20.3%. Most of the reported symptoms (55.5%) occurred within the first 3 days of vaccination while 40.2% of the vaccinees with reported symptoms could not recall time of onset of symptoms. Adverse Effects Following Immunization were reported more in the older age groups with 61.5% of those older than 60years reporting symptoms compared to 34.9% of those aged 18-24 years. The difference for age was statistically significant (p=0.003). Those with pre-existing morbidities were also observed to have higher rates of reported symptoms (AEFIs) than those without pre-existing morbidities even though the observed difference was not statistically significant.

“The findings suggest that from the perspective of public communication, the vaccine is quite safe and the reported symptoms are mild and to be expected in the first three days following vaccination. Older vaccinees are to be particularly counselled as to what to expect and not to panic as the symptoms are mild and time limited. During this study, there was no report of Vaccine-induced COVID-19 or deaths related to the vaccines.”

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