By Billy Graham Abel, Yola
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, has advised Nigerians to support the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination campaign to ensure increased uptake of the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the subsequent phases of the campaign.
Mustapha gave the advice in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, at the North East Town Hall meeting on COVID 19 Vaccination organised by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 in collaboration with National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).
‘Our robust interaction at this Town Hall meeting is a clear indication of our collective determination to achieve our goal of protecting eligible Nigerians against COVID-19 through vaccination and observance of non-pharmaceutical measures including wearing of face masks, frequent hand washing and physical distancing,’ he stated.
The SGF, who was represented by the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Mahmud Abubakar, reiterated that citizens have a role to play by taking responsibility for keeping family, friends, and community safe from COVID-19.
‘As a strategic leader, publicly take your second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to further motivate those who have taken the first dose to take their second,’ he said.
Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State, speaking at the event, commended the Presidential Committee on COVID-19 for organising the town hall meeting to enlighten the people of the northeast on the need to get vaccinated.
Governor Fintiri lauded staff of the Adamawa State Primary Health Development Agency, vaccination teams as well as strategic and traditional leaders in Adamawa for their effort towards containing the coronavirus pandemic.
The governor, represented by his Deputy Chief Crowther Seth, revealed that over 33,000 people have received the first jab of the COVID-19 vaccine in Adamawa and called on citizens to avail themselves of the second shot.
Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire has indicated that Nigeria has lost over two thousand lives, and the GDP falling by 23 per cent due to the slowdown of global economic activity as a result of the COVID -19 pandemic; noting that the impact of COVID-19 on health, economic and social services have been overarching, that it calls for all hands to be on the deck to focus on solutions to the disease
According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be the greatest health threat to our generation.
‘COVID-19 is still very much a threat to us, as we can see in graphic reports from countries like India, Turkey and Brazil, but this frightening reality still has to sink in with the public.
‘Nigeria has plentifully enjoyed the grace of God Almighty since COVID-19 outbreak, but we still need, like before, to protect ourselves and our families, by complying with various established public health measures and to utilise the latest option which, I believe it, has pleased the Almighty to put at our disposal: it is the COVID-19 vaccine” he stated.
‘I am sure that we are all tired of wearing face masks and having to always observe social distancing, among others. I also believe that we do not want these so-called new normal to remain with us for too long.
‘If indeed we want to return to our “old normal” ways of living, we need to come together and fight COVID-19 and put it behind us. This is the reason we are gathered here today to share thoughts and take responsibility in the fight against COVID-19,’ he stated.
The minister pointed out that a lot of resources – human and material – have gone into the fight against COVID-19, and that the country is making progress with over 2 million eligible persons targeted in phase one having been vaccinated against the disease.
While commending the NPHCDA for a very successful vaccine rollout, which has been described by WHO as the best in Africa, Ehanire charged all citizens to ensure they get vaccinated against COVID-19, stressing that the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine being used in Nigeria is safe and can protect us against the disease.
In his address, NPHCDA Executive Director/CEO Faisal Shuaib commended Adamawa for having the highest number of people coming out to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the country and revealed plans to start producing the vaccine in the country.
According to him, it is not enough to offer vaccines to Nigerians, but there is also a need to empower the people with the correct information required for them to make informed decisions about getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
He disclosed that Nigeria received a shipment from COVAX of nearly 4 million doses of the Oxford/Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
‘In total, we provided first COVID-19 vaccine doses to 1,966,548 Nigerians, representing about 98% of those targeted in the first wave of our vaccination exercise. We have begun providing second doses, and that number has reached 358,239.
‘We are advising that all Nigerians who have received their first dose should check their vaccination cards for the date of their second dose, and ensure that they receive the second dose to gain full protection against COVID-19,’ he stated.
The town hall meeting had in attendance governors and stakeholders from the six states in the zone.