Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has said the state may commence the administering of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, March 11.
Sanwo-Olu said this on Wednesday, when the World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Nigeria, Dr Walter Mulombo paid a courtesy visit to the Governor at Lagos House, Ikeja.
He said that the Federal Government had given the state a total of 507,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and that plans were in place to begin administering.
”We are truly grateful that they (Federal Government) can give us that number. We want a lot more.
“We have the Vaccine Steering Committee that we have put in place, which has both the private sector and public sector practitioners.
”They have designed a robust vaccine implementation strategy, and identified the various levels of our citizens and what order we are going to be administering the doses that we have.
”With all of that now and working with the Primary Health Board at the state level, we will start administering it, maybe from tomorrow (Thursday) or as they planned.
”We have a robust process that shows we are ready and capable to administer those things in the days, weeks and months ahead.
”We need to explain to our citizens and help them see that indeed, the vaccine is needed, helpful and will help the level of resistance, especially the first-line health workers, those with underlining health issues and the senior citizens among us,” Sanwo-Olu said.
He said that COVID-19 came at a time the world did not have a clear understanding of the consequences but that Lagos State was able to respond early enough.
”The whole idea is that you will not wait for the problem to come. You anticipate the problem and build the capacity so that when it finally comes, you have the response.
”Now the second wave appears to have flattened, we are watching. We are not stopping at the level of tests that we need to conduct; we still have isolation centres that need to be treated.
”We still have oxygen cylinders that we procured, and drugs in stock; we bought everything that we needed to buy because we feel that it is a public health issue and we are facing it frontally,” the governor said.
Earlier, Mulombo commended the governor and his cabinet for the prompt manner in responding to emergencies, health, transportation, and the state’s contributions in making Nigeria polio-free.
He said that the prompt response of Lagos State Government on COVID-19 made Nigeria a reference point and urged other African countries to follow the Nigerian approach to COVID-19 response.
According to Mulombo, Lagos State Government is among the first to show courageous measures to contain the pandemic.
”I can see the testing rate, other interventions and how the testing capacity increased in a short time.
“I can see how oxygen provision was expanded and I am really proud to have Lagos work under your leadership.
”Nigeria is going through the second wave and new tools are becoming available. This year is about COVID-19 vaccine, which is important to economic development.
”We are hopeful that with the vaccine rollout, our economy will gradually reopen.
“We look forward to that leadership that Lagos has shown in the early phase of response to the virus; we expect it to show same leadership in the vaccine rollout and administration,” Mulombo said.