The Chargé d’Affaires (CDA) of the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, Kathleen FitzGibbon, has reassured the Government of Imo State of the U.S. Government’s continued support and assistance concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chargé gave the assurance when she visited the State to observe the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination exercise supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through its implementing partner, the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria (CCFN).
At the Headquarters of Owerri Municipal Council, the venue of the vaccination exercise, CDA FitzGibbon reiterated the need for all eligible persons to come out and receive their vaccinations which are being offered free of charge. She said doing so will not only keep the individuals safe but also protect their families and communities. She encouraged the people of Imo State to not be complacent despite the seeming relaxation of COVID-19 prevention protocols around the world, especially in the face of several variants circulating and potentially new and emerging variants.
The Chargé applauded those who presented themselves to get vaccinated and urged them to encourage members of their families and communities to do the same. The sooner a significant percentage of the population is vaccinated against COVID-19, the sooner we can end the pandemic and return to normal. She thanked healthcare workers for their tireless efforts in ensuring the vaccines get into the arms of eligible people in Imo State.
CDA FitzGibbon noted that the consistent and straightforward messaging in Imo State concerning COVID-19 vaccines is an excellent example of encouraging people to associate taking the vaccines with their personal and family wellbeing.
A stakeholder meeting with Imo State Government officials, traditional rulers, religious leaders, development partners, and media executives, took place on the final day of the visit. During the meeting, the Chargé and Governor Hope Uzodinma appealed to traditional and religious leaders to lead by example by taking the vaccines and spreading the message that the vaccines are safe, effective, and available, so members of congregations and communities who were hesitant before can now come out and take the vaccines as well.
During a question-and-answer interactive session, the State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Prosper Success, and the US-CDC Country Director, Dr. Mary Boyd, responded to issues around COVID-19 vaccines efficacy, safety, availability, and access in Imo State. They encouraged people with underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, immunocompromised states, and respiratory illnesses to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because they are more vulnerable to getting a severe illness or even death from Coronavirus.
The U.S. government is at the forefront of supporting the Government of Nigeria’s COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, with approximately 25 million vaccine doses donated to date. In addition, US Government agencies and implementing partners are working with national and state governments to ensure access and uptake of the vaccines through advocacy, messaging, and technical and logistical support.