The chairman, Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria, Lagos State chapter, Dr. Makinde Akinlemibola, says vaccination of health workers in private practice must be a priority in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
According to Dr. Akinlemibola, the decision to prioritise frontline health workers for COVID-19 vaccination was crucial to ensuring caregivers taking care of patients are protected.
The APMPN chairman, however, added that vaccination priority should also be given to the physicians in private practice, their family members as well as staff in their hospitals.
Recall that the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib had on Monday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja reiterated that the government has prioritised the vaccination of frontline health workers and support staff.
With the arrival of the 3.92 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines on Tuesday, the stage is now set for the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Nigeria.
However, speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in an interview, the Lagos AGPMPN chairman said the priority been given to health workers should be extended to doctors in private hospitals, their staff and family members.
Dr. Akinlemibola disclosed that that AGPMPN was already in discussion with the Lagos State government to ensures its members get the COVID-19 vaccines, adding that it is also very important to vaccinate people around the doctors.
“We are arranging to get vaccines for our members. We are lucky to have one of our members as part of the Lagos State COVID-19 response team.
“We also believe that the people around the doctors in private practice should also be prioritised for vaccination too and they include staff and family members.
“Prioritising frontline health workers who take care of patients who can be exposed to the virus is important.
“It is also important to prioritise people who are older and people with co-morbidities like diabetes and hypertension.
“I must, however, point out that we must continue to adhere to all the prevention and safety protocols even though vaccines are now available,” he said.
Also speaking with our correspondent, the immediate past chairman of AGPMPN in Lagos State, Dr. Tunji Akintade said it is important for the government to prioritise health workers, particularly those in private practice for COVID-19 vaccination, noting that about 70 percent of the nation’s health workforce are in private practice.
Akintade said the arrival of the AstraZeneca vaccines in Nigeria on Tuesday was a good development, adding that the leadership of the AGPMPN would be engaging the government on how to appropriately vaccinate members of the association who are also in the frontline of fighting the pandemic.
“In Nigeria, you ask for what you want. I know the doses of vaccines we received was limited and I learnt all the legislators and government officials are also prioritized to get vaccinated, so we have to discuss the importance of health workers in private practice,” he said.
According to Akintade, while the idea to open a portal for COVID-19 vaccination registration was good, it would have been better to have a dedicated porter for the registration of health workers in private practice.
The physician also harped on the need to properly handle the distribution of the vaccines.
“We must think about the logistic of distribution and ensuring the cold-chain is maintained.
“I learnt the states would have to start building the necessary structures as the only one we have now basically is the one at Gwagwalada in Abuja.
“We must also be thinking about the immunity duration of the vaccine. Is it life immunity?
“I don’t want people to start misbehaving and acting carelessly because they have been vaccinated when it is still unclear how long the vaccine protects and against what strain.
“People must be told that the fact that they have been vaccinated should not prompt them to misbehave. They must continue to take the prevention of the viral infection seriously,” Dr. Akintade said.
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