As COVID-19 vaccination begins in the country, the federal government has designated 65 centres for residents within the federal Capital Territory (FCT) to receive COVID-19 vaccines.
President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will today receive jabs of the vaccine as part of moves to encourage other Nigerians to do the same.
Chairman of the presidential task force on COVID-19 and secretary to government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, yesterday flagged off the exercise on behalf of Buhari.
This is coming just three days after Nigeria got the first batch of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines from COVAX, a World Health Organisation (WHO) backed programme aimed at procuring and distributing free vaccines to countries around the world.
The first shipment of vaccines, totaling 3,924,000 doses, arrived at Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on Tuesday afternoon via an Emirates flight from India.
The federal government had stated ahead of time that the vaccines would be distributed in order of priority, with frontline health workers at the top of the list.
It also stated that the elderly and strategic leaders in the country, including the President and other main public office holders, would be taken into account.
LEADERSHIP Weekend reports that Dr Cyprian Nyong, a staff of the National Hospital, Abuja, made history to become the first to take the first shot of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine at the National Hospital Abuja.
Nyong received his dose of the vaccine during the official flag off of the vaccination exercise by the chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and secretary to government of the federation, Boss Mustapha, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said, “We’ve been at the forefront of the COVID-19 fight here in the National Hospital at our isolation centre under the able leadership of the National Hospital.
“They’ve provided everything we need for this fight. We’ve lost some, won some and we are happy we are getting the vaccine now in Nigeria. I think that is about the best news we’ve had since.
“I only wished my dad had had that vaccine months ago. We lost him, but we thank God. The fight is still on and we’ll win.”
On how he feels after getting a jab, Ngong said, “You can see, I just took the vaccine now and I feel good. I dreamt of taking this vaccine and I have taken it today.”
Three other health workers who took the first set of the vaccine include Dr Joseph Nuru, Eragbai Faith and Dr. Tahir Yunusa who saved 10, 549, lives at Gwagwalada COVID-19 isolation/treatment centre, Abuja.
Also present to witness the event were Senate President Ahmed Lawan who was represented by Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe; Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; SGF Mustapha; Ministers of Health, FCT and representatives of donor partners.
Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib who administered the vaccine to Dr Ngong commended him and several other healthcare workers for working tirelessly in providing the needed counsel and treatment at the various COVID-19 isolation centres they were assigned to.
Meanwhile, the vaccination centres would be electronically accessed and generated via the link https://nphcdaict.com.ng/publicreg/ which could be found on the website of the federal ministry of health.
Clicking on the link, the individual would be required to provide some pieces of personal information including the residential address and local government of residence. Filling in this information automatically generates the closest vaccination centre where one could be inoculated.
Nobody Is Safe Until Everyone Is Vaccinated – Mustapha
Meanwhile, chairman of PTF and SGF, Boss Mustapha, has said Nigeria is determined to win the war against the pandemic.
He noted that the vaccination exercise is another great milestone in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, saying the people have every cause to be hopeful and more determined to win the fight against the disease.
According to Mustapha, the human activities that culminated in the arrival, authorisation, and distribution of vaccines have shown that humanity, when working for a common goal and unity of purpose, possesses the capacity to achieve a lot.
He said, “The human activities that culminated in the arrival, authorization and distribution of vaccines have shown that humanity, when working for a common goal and unity of purpose, possess the capacity to achieve a lot.
“In keeping with our promise, the PTF is prioritizing the frontline healthcare workers in the first batch of vaccines received. They have fought hard to save us. They laid down their lives for us, and in the ICUs and treatment centres, they became our last line of defence.”
“We must understand that nobody is safe until everyone is vaccinated. We must recognise that vaccine hesitancy will impact negatively on our lives.”
Also, Country Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Walter Kazadi, said that the pandemic still had a long way to run.
“Intense transmission is ongoing and is putting enormous pressure on hospitals, intensive care units and health workers. We need to work together to ensure that all preventive measures put in place are maximised to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our lives,’’ he said.
According to Kazadi, vaccines will be a critical new tool in the battle against COVID-19.
“These vaccines are safe and effective. Vaccines will be the game changer but for the foreseeable future, we must continue wearing masks, physically distance and avoid crowds,” he added.
He noted that being vaccinated didn’t mean people were out of the risk of infection from COVID-19, particularly because it was still not clear how long the vaccines could protect not only against disease but also against infection and transmission.
Vaccines Certified By NAFDAC, To Be Given In Four Batches – Ehanire
Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the vaccination exercise would be carried out in four batches targeting a specific segment of society.
He confirmed that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has certified the vaccine safe for use in Nigeria.
Ehanire clarified that pregnant women and persons under the age of 18 were ineligible to take the vaccine except medically certified as there was no scientific assessment of the safety of people in that group.
He warned those who would administer the vaccine to steer clear of any form of foul play, as he noted that any infraction would embarrass Nigeria and attract heavy sanctions.
“The vaccination exercise must be done in accordance with the guidelines as clearly stated by the federal ministry of health.”
Gbajabiamila Warns Against Playing Politics With Vaccine
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Nigeria, Femi Gbajabiamila, has cautioned against playing politics with the coronavirus vaccines, as Nigeria commences vaccination.
Gbajabiamila who gave the warning at the Flag-off of COVID-19 vaccination said this was the time for Nigerians to rally round the government.
“The vaccines being introduced in the country are safe and effective,” he noted.
Exercise Kicks Off In States From March 10
The roll-out of the coronavirus vaccines across all states is expected to commence from March 10, the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has said.
They however urged the federal government to take necessary steps to support logistics and inoculation activities in states to avert any hitch.
These formed part of the resolutions at the last virtual meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Thursday evening as captured in a communiqué released on Friday by the NGF’s secretariat.
The governors, as part of plans to ensure hitch free roll-out, agreed to initiate the launch of the vaccination programme in all states from March 10, 2021.
According to the communiqué signed by NGF’s chairman and Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, the governors promised to “actively monitor vaccine administration in their states through a vaccine implementation dashboard.
They agreed to facilitate the timely release of counterpart funds from state governments to ensure the vaccine roll-out exercise runs smoothly
I Tested Positive For COVID, Recovered In 72 Hours – Obasanjo
Meanwhile, former President Olusegun Obasanjo disclosed yesterday that he once tested positive to the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic and recovered in 72 He said God has continued to be compassionate and merciful with Nigeria and the rest of African continent since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Obasanjo stated this yesterday in his remarks at a colloquium organised to celebrate his 84th birthday which was held within the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
The colloquium which took place simultaneously both online and offline with the theme, “Reflection on Governance and Changes for Post – pandemic Leadership in Africa”, had hundreds of people in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Singapore and Nigeria participating virtually.
With particular mention of Nigeria, Obasanjo said no amount of social or physical distancing would have saved the country from suffering greater degree of casualties, considering the rate at which people clustered themselves in 10 by 12 feet rooms in states such as Lagos.
He wondered how much social distancing requirements would have been able to be accomplished in Mushin, Lagos, where eight people live in one room or Ajegunle, also in Lagos, where no fewer than 10 people occupy 12 by 12 rooms.
Obasanjo, who turned 84 yesterday said he was a bit concerned about it, saying he was relieved 72 hours later when subsequent tests came out negative.
He said he had to call his daughter, Dr Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, to tell her that he was not having any symptoms but COVID – 19 tests from samples extracted from him read positive.
According to him, subsequent tests 72 hours later all certified him negative to the COVID-19 pandemic.