From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari at exactly 11:51a.m and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at 11:57a.m yesterday received the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine jab after some frontline health workers were vaccinated publicly.
It was preceded by e-registration of President Buhari and Osinbajo and filling of their vaccination cards by the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib.
The vaccination of Buhari was done by the his Chief Personal Physician, Dr Suhayb Rafindadi Sanusi after which he was presented with the e-vaccination card by Dr Shuaib at 11:59a.m.
Osinbajo was vaccinated by his personal physician, Dr Nicholas Audifferen and was also presented with the e-vaccination card by Dr Shuaib at 11:59a.m
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that the jab was painless as a narrow gauge syringe was used with small quantity injected in the upper arm.
He explained that the after effects are mild and a little discomfort in the area that was injected.
Buhari in his short remarks said that he took the jab as a demonstration of leadership and faith in the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, even as he recommended it to all specified Nigerians, “to do same so that we can be protected from the virus.”
He added: “The speedy development of the COVID-19 vaccines is quite significant and underscores the collective resolve of humanity to overcome the pandemic. Similarly, the collaborative effort to ensure equal access has brought relief to poor and developing countries.
“I have been assured by the Presidential Task Force that the AstraZeneca vaccine which Nigeria has accessed, will arrive in batches beginning with the first batch of about four million doses already received. I am similarly aware of the roll out and administration plan to cater for over 70 per cent of our population between year 2021 and 2022.
“Yesterday, our frontline medical personnel, top on the priority list, were vaccinated. 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 recommend it to all eligible Nigerians, to do same so that we can be protected from the virus.
“I urge all state governments, traditional and religious leaders, to take the lead in the mobilization effort within their environment and spheres of influence. The vaccine offers hope for a safe country, free of Coronavirus. I similarly urge all eligible Nigerians to present themselves and be vaccinated in accordance with the order of priority already mapped out, at the various authorized designated centres only.”
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who described the day as memorable in the life of the country, said it was made possible because of the starling leadership qualities President Buhari provided in the national response to COVID-19.
He said that by the vaccination of the president, and the vice president, they have demonstrated leadership “by offering themselves for the Nigerian people to believe in this safety and the efficacy of the vaccines that we have procured and it’s being deployed.”
Mustapha reiterated that soon no one would be able to travel without being vaccinated.
At the brief ceremony were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Mustapha; Minister of Health, Dr Ehanire; Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; and the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari.
Also present were the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Iheakwazu,
Director General of National Agency for Food Drugs and Administration Control (NAFDAC), Prof Mojisola Adeyeye.
Meanwhile, the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) Vaccines Taskforce has recommended compensation for citizens who suffer side effects or injury from the COVID-19 vaccination.
The Director-General, the West African Health Organization, Prof Stanley Okolo, disclosed that this was one of the resolutions of the taskforce presented to the ECOWAS Ministerial Coordinating Committee to encourage citizens to receive the vaccines.
He spoke at the 5th Regional Steering Committee meeting of the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement Programme project in Abuja.
He said that at the REDISSE meeting which held virtually due to the current surge of COVID-19 pandemic and the recent Ebola outbreak in Guinea, that the issue of indemnity was being taken up by the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, the global initiative aimed at ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines led by the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and others.