EpiC COVID 19 Vaccination Drive – Harnessing an Integrated Health Campaign strategy; Empowering Communities

Promoting Vaccination through positive community feedback EpiC COVID-19 Vaccination Drive - Harnessing an Integrated Health Campaign strategy; Empowering Communities


Introducing the Integrated Health Campaign: Bringing Vital Services to Communities

The USAID funded EpiC project is working collaboratively with the government of Nigeria through the State Primary Health Care Development Agencies (SPHCDAs) in Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Cross River and Enugu states to ensure that 70% of the respective states’ eligible population are vaccinated. To achieve this, EpiC is supporting mobile vaccination teams across the 4 states, while leveraging on the national supply chain for COVID –19 vaccines and consumables.

The mobile vaccination teams are tasked with ensuring demand creation and vaccination of eligible individuals in communities within supported states. However, vaccination efforts have been greatly hindered by vaccine hesitancy in many communities with resultant low vaccine coverage in some locations as low as 23%. Common factors leading to vaccine hesitancy include poor knowledge, myths & beliefs, and disinformation. There is also the presence of other donor-funded interventions targeting other conditions such as Malaria, Tuberculosis, and HIV in the various communities where mobile vaccination teams work which are also not well utilized, This situation is worse especially in areas with limited access to health care and those with poor health seeking behavior with feedback from other implementing partners on these other programs in these same communities confirming low uptake of available services. The need to improve vaccine uptake as well as impact positively on the lives of the communities as regards other prevalent disease conditions necessitated the implementation of an integrated health campaign led by the EpiC team in collaboration with other implementing partners and government stakeholders to spread behavioral change messages to these communities as well as bring services to their doorstep.

The campaign commenced with a dance procession in the selected communities with dancers and musicians taking to the streets with a road show bringing community members together and leading them to a central location to access health services. Intermittently between the melodies were carefully composed health education and information messages designed to inform the communities of the health services available, how to access them as well as encourage COVID-19 vaccination uptake. 

At the central location, using a “one-stop shop,” model, the campaign offered a variety of health services including malaria screening and testing, COVID-19 vaccinations, TB screening, mobile chest X-rays, BP checks, and consultation with medical doctors when available. Thanks to our partners, AHNI, The campaign served as a platform to inform about COVID-19 vaccinations, correct misconceptions arising from disinformation and dispel myths about COVID 19 as well as leverage on this activity to increase uptake and thus vaccine coverage. Other health conditions were not left out as communities were also sensitized on the need to have regular screening for raised blood pressure, tuberculosis, HIV and malaria.
FHI 360 through the EpiC project shares the story of an incredible journey of the integrated health campaign – a community-based initiative which brought comprehensive healthcare services to underserved communities across 27 local government areas in Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Cross River and Enugu states. This effort, primarily driven by the EpiC team was designed to empower communities and encourage vaccination against COVID-19, among other essential medical services. The EpiC team worked with the various partners and the government stakeholders, to map out communities and select those who would be the best fit for the integrated health campaign activities.
Breakthrough Action Nigeria, ECEWS, KNCV, and the respective State primary Health Care Development Agencies who made available the doctors and other healthcare workers from the primary health care centres in the various communities where the campaign was held. Over 10,000 people registered as having accessed at least one health services during the exercise, during the campaign. Among these, over 5,000 received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, 3,000 were screened for tuberculosis, of which 15% were presumed cases, and were given access to additional care. Additionally, eligible individuals were tested for HIV, with all positive results being immediately linked to life-saving anti-retroviral therapy. The campaign was a remarkable success and a collaborative effort by all stakeholders – government agencies, local governments, implementing partners, and dedicated volunteers – to create demand for COVID-19 vaccinations and other essential health services. The youth leader from Mkpat Enin community in Akwa Ibom state Nsikak Ekpo alluded to the fact that integrated health campaign was a resounding success that went beyond vaccinations and screenings; in his own words “It ignited a spark of transformation in my community that was once grappling with vaccine hesitancy, misinformation, and poor health-seeking behavior”. Through effective collaboration, EpiC and its partners proved that empowered communities could overcome the most significant health challenges and inspire meaningful behavioral change. As part of the next steps, the EpiC team intends to leverage our supported vaccination teams in those communities to sustain the gains made during this exercise, as well as to build on the successes to reach a larger audience, thereby strengthening sustainability, improving access to vaccination services and thus achieving wider vaccine coverage.

Together, we can empower communities, raise awareness, and improve healthcare access for all.