RECENTLY, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora, sounded a note of warning to Nigerians against lowering their guard in expectation of COVID-19 vaccines.
The minister’s warning is in consonance with an admonition by the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who remarked that persons not adhering to safety protocols because vaccines have been discovered are risking their lives.
The warnings by these officials are timely. Even as COVID-19 vaccines from the pharmaceutical transnationals are becoming widely available, their availability should not be license for complacency.
The COVID-19 vaccination may well be the biggest vaccination effort in history and an important tool to help stop the raging pandemic.
Evidence from series of clinical trials shows that the best performing of these vaccines stop 95 percent of coronavirus infections.
Administration of two doses of the vaccines three weeks apart boosts the recipient’s immune system and minimises the risk of infection from the virus.
Essentially, COVID-19 vaccination offers protection from sickness with the virus because the vaccine “trains” the recipient’s immune system to recognise the virus and to act against it. So, in the event of an infection, the vaccinated person is better protected and less likely to get sick.
This immunity boost, however, does not occur immediately; it takes some time.
A vaccinated person could, therefore, be exposed to the virus before or immediately after being vaccinated.
As Nigeria is finalising plans to begin vaccination of her citizens, it is important to caution all that vaccination is not a cure or license for complacency.
At no time should we let our guard down during and after the vaccination process.
We must ensure that all the recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions, NPIs, and other safety guidelines are maintained in order to prevent transmission and potential infection with the virus.
The message is for everyone to continue to stay safe and abide by the NPIs and guidelines, even after vaccination.
We must continue to wash our hands regularly with soap and running water, wear face masks in the midst of others, while maintaining at least two metres distance, avoiding crowds and ensuring use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers where there is no access to soap and water.