From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has received a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the State House, Abuja.
The president had taken his first jab of the vaccine earlier in the year on March 6 and the second jab on May 29, respectively.
The vaccine was administered to him on Tuesday by his personal physician, Dr Suhayb Rafndadi, around 10:30 am.
According to NPHCDA Executive Director Dr Faisal Shuaib, with over eight million Nigerians vaccinated, the booster shot is another proof that the vaccine is safe. And it is a clarion call to all Nigerians to make themselves available to receive the vaccine.
Dr Shuaib assured citizens that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and urged Nigerians to take it for their own safety.
‘The significance of the shot this morning is that the father of the nation is leading by example. As usual, he is among the first people that have taken the booster dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine.
‘Again, to show clearly to all Nigerians that it is safe, it is efficacious, and now that over 8 million Nigerians have been vaccinated, here is another proof that this vaccine is safe and it’s a clarion call to all Nigerians to make themselves available to get the vaccine,’ he said.
The NPHCDA boss urged all those refusing to take the vaccine to shelve aside all conspiracy theories, as the vaccine is not harmful to humans.
‘The evidence is there; over eight million Nigerians have taken the vaccines safely. They are well, they are going about their normal businesses and what we’re seeing from the data is that COVID-19 is now mostly a disease of the unvaccinated.
‘Out of every 10 people that have died, the data shows that eight of them are unvaccinated. So, there’s a greater likelihood of dying from COVID-19 if you’re unvaccinated.
“What the President has done today is again to indicate to all Nigerians that federal government does everything to make sure that only safe and efficacious vaccines are brought into Nigeria and that when they are brought into Nigeria, we’ll double-check to make sure that it fits the very high standards that have been set by NAFDAC.
‘So, when you go to any health facility, when you go to any mass vaccination site, one thing that should be clear in your mind is that this vaccine that is going into your body is safe and is going to protect you against severe forms of COVID-19. It will also protect you from dying from COVID-19. That is the assurance that we’re giving Nigerians,’ he said.
Dr Shuaib explained that the vaccine comes with mild signs that confirm that the vaccine is working well, as it triggers the immune system of everybody that takes it.
‘The other thing that we are also telling Nigerians is that when you take the vaccine, you may feel some pain at the site of the vaccination, you may feel a little bit feverish, you may feel a little bit of body pain, but these are all the indications that the vaccine is working. These are mild symptoms compared to the symptoms you will feel if you were to contract the actual COVID-19. This is part of the technology that portends that this is COVID-19, but in actual fact, it makes your body rise up armies that will now defeat the actual virus.
‘So, please stop hesitating, stop having any doubts. It is a question of integrity for us that we do the right thing and we are showing, through leadership from Mr President, the Governors, the legislators that have come out openly to take these vaccines, that these vaccines are exactly what we need to be able to protect our health and then begin to build back our economy,’ he explained.
Speaking on the protocol involved in taking the booster shot, Dr Shuaib said: ‘To get the booster shot, all you need to do is go to your to the nearest health facility or any vaccination centre, which vaccination card and you will get the booster shots. We’re making the vaccines available all across the country. So you don’t have to go too far from where you live or from where you work to get the booster doses.
‘So for example, if you’ve gotten the AstraZeneca vaccine, first and second doses, you have to wait six months after the second dose to get your Pfizer BioNTech. If you actually got the Modena vaccine, you also have to wait for six months before you get the booster dose, right. So after the first dose of the Modena, you get the second dose after four weeks, then after six months, you are now eligible to get the booster. If you’ve got the Johnson and Johnson vaccine as a single shot vaccine, then you are eligible for a booster after two months, right? So these are the protocols that we’ve laid out there, and we’re encouraging Nigerians to go and get vaccinated which their booster shots because what evidence shows is that when you get the booster shot, you actually get better protection against the Omicron variant.
‘We’re all aware that the Omicron variant is globally being transmitted, especially with the holiday season, people are travelling. So this is an opportunity for you to go to the nearest health facility or the nearest mass vaccination site. We now have mass vaccination sites, in markets, in shop centres, in places that are you know, densely populated in some estates and in the workplace. So you can go to any of these centres and get vaccinated.
‘Now we have vaccines. A few months ago, we had a challenge of no vaccines because of the global supply shortage. Now we have more than enough vaccines to get all Nigerians vaccinated. So I urge all Nigerians to seize the opportunity and get vaccinated just like Mr President has shown leadership.
‘The Chairman of the Presidential steering committee on COVID-19 has also taken his booster dose. I am aware that Mr Vice President has also taken the booster dose the ministers of health, everybody has shown leadership by coming forward to do this publicly. So I encourage all Nigerians to do the same,’ Dr Shuaib stated.