Chika James, a 31-year-old employee of the Market Square, a department store in Port Harcourt Rivers State, has mixed memories of getting her COVID-19 vaccine. On that day in October, Chika went to the State’s Secretariat, where health workers were administering vaccines freely to people.

"On getting there, I didn’t find any of the health workers,” she says. “I was referred to the Police Hospital close to the Secretariat, but there was no provision for vaccination there either.”

Chika James

“Nobody should use work as an excuse not to get vaccine. Our greatest desire is to get everyone vaccinated.”

“I lost hope of getting the vaccine that day and decided to undertake my next task for the day, a banking transaction at the Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) branch located along the Nnamdi Azikiwe Road, Port Harcourt. I narrated my frustration to one of the bank workers, who told me some health workers were in their branch to vaccinate them. It was even easier than I thought: I received my vaccine at an unexpected place.”

Chika profited from a special arrangement being made by banks and other private business entities in Nigeria to make vaccination easily accessible to their workers and, by extension, their customers.

The branch’s Security Operational Officer, GTB, Olarenwaju Jide, says the bank arranged the special service with qualified health workers. The health workers spent one month in their branch and ensured that all employees received their vaccines before leaving the facility.

“Their presence made it easier for all the workers to receive the vaccine without affecting their productivity. The arrangement did not benefit our workers alone. Most of our customers took advantage of the opportunity to get their vaccine. Even people who are not our customers but got wind of the arrangement also got vaccinated in our branch within the period. It was a commendable arrangement.”

A top-notch public relations outfit based in Lagos, DMB Public Relations Limited, brought health workers to its head office in Lagos State to vaccinate its workers. The Chief Executive Officer of DMB, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, says the arrangement brought the vaccine into the workers’ comfort zones.

“I underscored the need for everyone working in DMB to get the vaccine. I didn’t have to impose any condition because when the health workers came, all of them willingly got the vaccine. In fact, the arrangement helped them have easy access to vaccination and helped us to maximise our work rate. If I hadn’t made the arrangement, most of them wouldn’t have been vaccinated,” he concludes.

A media consortium, AIM Group, also made it easy for its employees to get the vaccine. The group’s Programme Manager in Rivers State, Carl Orakuwe, says the company reached an agreement with health officials from the Ptate’s Primary Healthcare Board.

He explains, “We appealed to them because we have the required staff numbers, which they agreed with. We sensitised all the employees and asked interested persons to come forward. The turnout was impressive. The arrangement motivated the workers to come out for vaccination. It was easy because the vaccination came to them. They didn’t have to leave their work and go in search of it.”

Daniel Sunday is the Coordinator, COVID-19 Vaccination Team, Primary Healthcare Management Board. He says corporate organisations, business owners, religious bodies and individuals are making special arrangements through the board’s Special Mobile Teams to take the vaccines to employees in their work environment.

“We maintain special mobile teams that take vaccination to those who cannot go to vaccination centres,” he says. “Companies that have 50 to 100 staff have made such special arrangements. The idea is laudable. The special arrangement afforded companies the opportunity to get the vaccine without stress. Nobody should use work as an excuse not to get vaccine. Our greatest desire is to get everyone vaccinated.”

Sunday says the board works around the clock from Monday to Sunday. Every Sunday, the mobile teams are sent to different churches to vaccinate their members.

“Through these special arrangements, we have taken vaccines to the New Jerusalem Baptist Church, the Abundant Life Church, and Emmanuel Anglican Church. Banks also approached us, and we took vaccination to Access Bank, First Bank and GTB. The response has been good.”

Sunday notes the spiral effect of such arrangements. “The companies that have succeeded with such arrangements sell the idea to others, who also approach us for vaccination. They have a way of communicating with one another. One fishing company invited us and when we concluded their vaccination, they informed another fishing firm, which also contacted us.”

TOPICS: InnovationCountry stories

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