President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Saturday received jabs of the COVID-19 vaccines at the State House, Abuja.
The president’s chief physician, Suhayb Rafidadi, administered the vaccine at about 11.52 a.m. on the president. The vice president was also vaccinated by his physician, Nicholas Audifferen, immediately after the president received his dose.
The vaccination process was streamed on live television to encourage other Nigerians to accept the vaccines.
“Today, as a demonstration of leadership and faith in the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, I have received my first jab and I wish to commend it to all eligible Nigerians, to do same so that we can be protected from the virus,” Mr Buhari said shortly after receiving the vaccines.
Mr Buhari said the response to COVID-19 in Nigeria and the ECOWAS sub-region has been robust, collaborative and united.
“It was driven by a collective knowledge of the fact that ‘no country is safe until every country is safe,” he said.
He noted that the speedy development of the COVID-19 vaccines is significant and underscores the collective resolve of humanity to overcome the pandemic.
He appealed to all state governments, traditional and religious leaders, to take the lead in the mobilization effort within their environment and spheres of influence.
Nigeria on Tuesday took delivery of nearly four million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to the country in batches over the next few months. The vaccines are being provided by COVAX, an unprecedented global effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Upon arrival, samples were handed to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) for further examination.
The agency certified the vaccines safe and effective for use on Thursday night, according to Nigerian’s health minister, Osagie Ehanire.
Nigeria on Friday commenced the COVID-19 vaccination, beginning with healthcare workers who are often at the risk of exposure to infections being the first responders to patients.
Cyprian Ngong, a medical doctor, became the first person to receive a jab of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines in Nigeria. Three other health workers were also vaccinated during the flag-off event at the National Hospital in Abuja.
However, vaccine hesitancy is a major challenge that must be addressed if Nigeria is to have an effective vaccination campaign, public health experts told PREMIUM TIMES.
Weeks before the arrival of the vaccines, an official announced that Messrs Buhari, Osinbajo and other prominent Nigerians are willing to be among the first set of Nigerians to receive the vaccine on live television to help drive acceptance.
“These critical leaders and others would likely take the vaccine in full glare of the public to demonstrate that this vaccine is safe,” the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, said.
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, while addressing journalists in Abuja after meeting with President Buhari in late January, also said he and his colleagues will take the vaccines on live television.
“We too will like to demonstrate to our citizens that we believe that vaccines would work,” he said.
“Don’t forget, we have a lot of experience on this. Governors Forum managed the polio vaccines administration in the country and we have garnered a lot of experience,” said Mr Fayemi, the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum.
Health workers, frontline workers, COVID-19 rapid response team, laboratory network, police officers, petrol station workers and strategic leaders are among those to be vaccinated in the first phase of Nigeria’s vaccine rollout.
“Phase 2 – Older adults aged 50 years and above. Those with co-morbidities aged 18 – 49 years of age,” Mr Shuaib said.
“Phase 3 – Those in states/LGAs with high disease burden and who missed phases 1 and 2.
“Phase 4 – Other eligible population as vaccines become available.”
“Today, Mr President, and the Vice President, as they call it, demonstrated leadership by offering themselves for the Nigerian people to believe in the safety and the efficacy of the vaccines that we have procured and is being deployed,” the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said Saturday.
Mr Mustapha noted that soon no one will be able to travel without the vaccination card.
“I think vaccine hesitancy would have to give way to the reality. Because the truth about it is nobody will be able to travel the world unless you produce the certificate that we have been given,” he said.
Health minister, Osagie Ehanire, said the jab is painless and a narrow gauge syringe was used with a small quantity injected in the upper arm.
Mr Ehanire said the after-effects are mild and little discomfort follows in the area that was injected.
He explained that the leaders’ decision to get vaccinated publicly will boost the morale of the health sector.
This, he said, will also reassure the public as to the safety and efficacy of the vaccines which have been of concern to the public.
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