The Akwa Ibom State government has expressed worry over the low coverage of COVID-19 vaccination, blaming it on hesitancy, misinformation and myth and misconceptions about the vaccine.
Akwa Ibom is said to have recorded only “8 percent of the eligible population,’’ as being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, blaming the poor outing on hesitancy, misinformation and the plethora of myths and misconceptions about COVID-19 vaccine.
In December last year, it announced plans to deploy motorised mobile vans during the launch of the mass vaccination campaign in its bid to reach 2.5 people within a month.
According to the 2016 figures, Akwa Ibom has a population of 5,450,758 people, which means that only 436,000 people have so far been vaccinated against COVID-19 as at September 12.
Ime Udoh, a medical doctor and Akwa Ibom State immunisation officer who expressed the concern in an interview said the state government has organised engagement activities with stakeholders in many communities with a view to breaking the hesitancy over COVID-19 vaccination in the state.
According to him, campaigns have been launched to raise awareness on the need for more people to be vaccinated adding that the state government has created more access points for the easy uptake of COVID-19 vaccination services.
“We are creating awareness by engaging with major stakeholders and meeting with key influencers and making use of churches including the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), we have also had an engagement with the traditional rulers, we are hoping that they could throw in their support, we are also creating more sites for people to have easy access to vaccination centres, we believe that with all this, we will be able to surmount the hesitancy and increase the percentage of people being vaccinated.
“We have enough stock of vaccines, we are demanding as we use, whenever we run out of stock, we can always ask from the national primary healthcare Development Agency.’’
Udoh was also speaking in response to a disclosure by Doreen Enejoh, Principal Technical Advisor, USAID, Medicines, Technologies and Pharmaceutical Services (MTaPS) who had disclosed that that with only 8 percent of the eligible population fully vaccinated, Akwa Ibom was sixth from the bottom in achieving access to COVID-19 vaccination services.
Declaring the workshop open on behalf of the executive secretary, Akwa Ibom State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Eno Attah, he said the vaccines are safe and have been in use for centuries in the fight against many diseases which he said had led to the elimination of many life threatening illness including the small pox.
He said Akwa Ibom was slowly catching up and expressed the hope that with the expansion of access to COVID-19 sites, more people would be vaccinated against COVID-19 and appealed to the health workers to get vaccinated “ so that they can sell the vaccines to others.’’
In her presentation, Margaret Etim, the Health Promotion Officer in the state ministry of health, called on stakeholders to support efforts aimed at achieving more vaccination in the state and appealed to them to take ownership of health programmes in the state.