ABUJA–THE federal government has urged citizens not to panick but believe in the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines that will be administered to them.
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who said this during flagoff of vaccination begining with frontline healthcare workers at the National Hospital, Abuja, tasked Nigerians to approach the vaccines phase with unity of purpose and should understand that nobody is safe until everyone is vaccinated.
“We must believe our government on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines brought to Nigeria, support the planned and systematic roll out of the vaccines and mobilise our citizens as we move into the states,”the SGF said.
He added:”We must recognize that vaccine hesitancy will impact negatively on our lives and those of our loved ones, if allowed to fester.”
While appealing to Nigerians against patronizing fraudsters, Mustapha explained that vaccines are very sensitive life-saving commodity and the only authorized source is the Federal Government that had signed indemnity with the manufacturers.
Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire said the vaccine was confirmed to have positive results after undergoing assessment by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control,NAFDAC.
He insisted that Nigerians who are under 18 years and pregnant women were not eligible to take the vaccine except they have been medically certified to take the jab.
“It is a relief and the marking of the start of a tedious but hopeful exercise to see our citizens develop immunity against the virus.
“It is an horrifying one year to follow a gradual increase of the COVID 19 casualties in our country especially among health workers which was also depleting our human resources”, the minister said.
According to him, the deployment would be in four phases and would aligned with the planned arrival of vaccines in batches.
He added that each phase would capture a specific segment of the eligible population to ensure equity in vaccine deployment.
He said apart from the frontline health workers, the next prioritised groups are the elderly and vulnerable with pre- existing health conditions.
He said:”All eligible groups must get vaccinated as at when due while the non eligible groups should respectfully await their turn.
“The vaccines are more than enough to go round and would be coming in phases. We have taken steps to ensure vaccine security and accountability, but we must also avoid any kind fowl play or underground dealing in this exercise. embarrass us.
“These vaccines are our common assets and responsibility of every person to protect them and ensure proper use. I urged citizens to be vigilant and report any foul practise to the security agencies.”
A frontline medical doctor, Dr. Cyprian Ngong, of the National Hospital, Abuja, who has been treating Covid patients at the National Hospital Isolation Centre, since the beginning of the fight last year, was the first Nigerian to
received a jab of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine.
Speaking after being the vaccination,he said:”We’ve been at the forefront here in National Hospital at the Isolation Centre under the able leadership of the National Hospital.
“They have provided everything we need for this fight. We have lost some, we have got some and we are happy we are getting the vaccines now in Nigeria.”
According to him,”That is about the best news we have heard since.”
Speaking further,he said:”I only wished my dad had had this vaccine may be months ago or so. We lost him but we thank God and the fight is still on and we will win.”
The second person was Dr Tahir Yunusa, a pathologist with University of Abuja Teaching Hospital while the third person was Dr Nuru Samudeen, a Family Physician at the Accident and Emergency unit, National Hospital Abuja.
Recall that Nigeria had on Tuesday received the AstraZeneca vaccine licensed and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) from the Covax distribution initiative.
Ghana was the first country to benefit from the Covax programme after receiving 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines last Wednesday followed by Ivory Coast that took delivery of over 500, 000 doses last Friday.
With the arrival of the nearly four million doses on Tuesday, Nigeria is currently the biggest beneficiary of the initiative in the first phase, while also expecting a total 16 million jabs that will come in four phases.
As at Thursday, Nigeria has a total cases of 157,671 infected people with 1,951 fatalities, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control,NCDC.