Nigeria: Covid-19 – Nigerian Govt Partners Community Pharmacies to Expand Vaccination Coverage

Mr Shuaib said the partnership with pharmacies will improve vaccination rates within the shortest time possible.

The Nigerian government on Monday co-opted community pharmacies into COVID-19 vaccination campaign to enable more access to vaccines among rural communities.

The executive director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, while speaking at the flag-off on Tuesday said this will ensure vaccine availability to tackle the virus which has claimed millions of lives globally.

Mr Shuaib said with over 6000 community pharmacies spread across the country, the partnership will contribute to increased vaccination coverage.

He said community pharmacies are some of the most easily accessible and frequently consulted points of care for health care service delivery by the public sector, especially in underserved populations.

He explained that the involvement of pharmacies in differentiated care and administration of antiretroviral medicines for HIV care have proven to improve retention on treatment, adherence to medication, and overall better treatment outcomes.

“In fact, community pharmacists have contributed greatly during the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic through ensuring the availability and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPEs), hand sanitisers etc,” he said.

Pharmacists involvement

Mr Shuaib said many countries around the world have authorised COVID-19 vaccination in community pharmacies and has shown promise in countries like South Africa, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom.

He affirmed that this synergy with pharmacies will enhance COVID-19 vaccination programme and help attain the national target of 70 per cent vaccination coverage that is necessary to achieve herd immunity.

He said this will also strengthen the health care system and contribute to the country’s health security.

“I want to recognise the strong leadership and commitment of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, and the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria for their relentless efforts to ensure that this collaboration becomes a reality,” he said.

Vaccination so far

Mr Shuaib said 30,327,550 persons, representing 23.9 per cent of the eligible population have received the 1st dose of vaccine as of May 31, 2022.

He said 14,629,451 persons have received their second dose and 18,291,072 persons, representing 16.4 per cent of the eligible population have been fully vaccinated against the virus. Over 1.2 million persons have also received their booster doses.

The executive director said the partnership with pharmacies will improve vaccination rates within the shortest time possible.

In his address, the National Chairman of ACPN, Adewale Oladigbolu, said the immunisation agency has prioritised the needs of the people and worked tirelessly in making COVID-19 vaccination widely accessible.

Mr Oladigbolu said this is a public health initiative that will improve access to vaccines as pharmacists are easily accessible.

He said pharmacists offer extended hours of service; they are trusted health care professionals and as such their inclusion in vaccination processes will drive down vaccine hesitancy and improve coverage tremendously.

He said; “Nigeria, our dear country; trains critical human resources for health and the job being done by the NPHCDA on immunisation, reducing maternal and child deaths, strengthening PHC towards achieving Universal Health Coverage and improving human capital development demands all hands to be on deck.

“Community pharmacists are critical human resources for health, and we are ever ready to replenish the wealth of our nation with the wealth of our experience and expertise.”

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