by Christiana Gokyo, Jos
Plateau State Government has inauguration a Task Force on Integrated Immunization, as well as the flagging-off of Covid-19 Mass Vaccination Campaign in the State.
Speaking during the Inauguration on Monday at Government House Jos, Governor Simon Lalong said, “These two events, which are closely related, are very important to the health and well-being of our citizens.
He added that, “In Nigeria, the use of vaccines for prevention against diseases has been on the rise since the introduction of Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) and other efforts of the World Health Organization and UNICEF and other partners.
“That is why many diseases, which in the past caused deaths, have largely been contained, particularly among children using vaccines,” he said.
He explained that, “The Task Force being inaugurating today has a membership that consists of health professionals and eminent stakeholders from across the State with the mandate to create the desired attention required for prompt sensitization and consolidation of achieved gains in the area of vaccination.”
Governor Lalong said, the Deputy Governor, Prof. Sonni Gwanle Tyoden, is saddled with the responsibility of piloting the Task Force, which shows the level of Political Will of the Rescue Administration to achieving tangible results in public health.
He directed all Local Government Chairmen to oversee their respective LGA Task Forces for successful immunization, in order to deliver effective rural health care services to the people.
“Also, all MDAs critical for the attainment of success of this very sensitive assignment are also directed to close ranks and work in harmony to create synergy needed for achieving set objectives.
“The flag-off of Covid-19 Mass Vaccination Campaign in the State is because of the negative impact of this pandemic on the health and economic well-being of Plateau State, Nigeria and the world at large,” the governor noted.
The governor revealed that, “Since the index case was reported and confirmed on 17th April, 2020, the State has recorded 10,002 positive cases with 73 deaths in all 17 LGAs as at 12th December, 2021.
“Our administration responded promptly and with all vigour, which ensured that 9,962 cumulative confirmed cases were managed and discharged, leaving only 35 infected persons still receiving and responding to treatment,” he stated.
“There has been continuous global attention to vaccines for prevention of Corona Virus infections as more variants of the virus emerge, such as the Omicron variant that is the latest.
“Today’s event, therefore, is for us to consolidate more on our previous efforts and achievements in fortifying our people against Covid-19 through mass vaccination in the entire state. Since the commencement of Covid-19 vaccination, NPHCDA reported that only 3.4% of the targeted population has been vaccinated.
“The NPHCDA has assured that it has enough vaccines and intends to vaccinate 50% of the target population by the end of January, 2022. They also have booster doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which are being administered also. This will assist Nigeria to achieve Hard Immunity, which requires a nation to vaccinate 70% of its population,” he stressed.
Governor Lalong further explained that, “The Federal Government recently came out with vaccine mandate, which required government employees and visitors to show prove of Covid-19 vaccination or present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours before gaining access to government offices in all locations in Nigeria and Missions abroad.”
According to him, “The Plateau State Government vaccine mandate is that all citizens of 18 years and above will henceforth show evidence of vaccination or present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours to gain access to any public office, adding that, this will also go hand-in-hand with observing all protocols in schools, markets, banks, weddings, churches, and mosques.
“These measures are not punitive nor intended to force people to take the vaccines against their wishes; they are simply meant to ensure public safety and guarantee the health of the people against this ravaging pandemic,” he noted.
“Let me reiterate that, no one will be forced to take the vaccine. We can only persuade people to do so. I and my family as well as other government officials have taken the vaccines without any problems. As your governor, I cannot ask you to do what will be detrimental to your health or cause you pain,” he said.
The governor also urged citizens to make themselves available for the vaccine, and reminded them that the earlier order to arrest and prosecute those, who seek to stop others from taking the vaccine as well as propagating falsehood about the existence of the pandemic, is still in force; those who are caught will be prosecuted.
While directing all Local Government Chairmen to also flag-off the mass vaccination campaign in their various LGAs, the governor added that, “This is to further consolidate and expand on their achievements in the provision of safe and effective rural healthcare services to our people where the larger population is domiciled.”
He also called on religious, traditional, community and political leaders to take leadership of this process and play their parts in sensitizing the people on the need to take the vaccines and promote public safety, stressing that, “They have a great role to play in dispelling the conspiracy theories against the vaccines that are founded on only speculations and not evidence.”