The Federal Government received the Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine over a week ago to vaccinate Nigerians against the coronavirus pandemic. The Federal Government ensured that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, evaluated the nearly four million doses procured through the the World Health Organisation, WHO’s, COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, COVAX, for safety and efficacy.
Already, the nation’s leaders have truly led “from the front” in this particular endeavour even if they have fallen short in other equally important issues like national security. President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, several governors, frontline health officials and others have been publicly inoculated with the AstraZeneca Vaccine which is very tolerant to our hot weather.
Fears have been expressed in certain quarters that with the reported cases of severe reactions to this particular vaccine and the suspension of its administration in no less than eight European countries, Nigeria should also err on the side of caution and put the exercise on hold.
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Those who push this argument point out that the second wave of the COVID-9 pandemic is already waning in Nigeria, and with the continued “low” fatality rates, Nigeria can afford to wait to clear the issue of the AstraZeneca Vaccine safety.
We, however, see it differently. The European Medicines Agency, EMA, which responded to these fears has disclosed that only 30 cases of “thromboembolic events’ (blood clotting) have been documented out of five million jabs administered on Europeans. EMA insists there is no proof that the vaccine was responsible for those “events”. It concludes: “The vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks”, adding that since its safety has been extensively studied during trials, “regulators have clear and stringent efficacy and safety standards for the approval of any new medicine”. We have to bear in mind that there is no medical formulation that does not carry some side effects, even if mild. Over-the-counters, OTCs, some of us ingest carelessly can be deadly under certain conditions.
Unless a major trend of life-threatening side effects is established in our vaccination programme, we are better off going ahead with it. As much as possible, it should, however, remain a voluntary decision of every adult Nigerian to get vaccinated or not. It is important that we do not slow down in our efforts to apprehend COVID-19 in Nigeria. Achieving this will also help in preventing the outbreak of a new wave of infections or mutation of the virus.
Let us not risk anything that will force government to issue another round of lockdowns which proved nightmarish, especially for our millions of low-income earners, last year. The vaccination exercise will also help us in our economic recovery efforts.
Ahead with the vaccination!