From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki has called on the citizens of the state to make themselves available for vaccination against COVID-19, assuring them of the vaccine’s safety.
The governor made the call while receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, flagging-off the COVID-19 vaccination exercise in the state.
Those who also took their shots alongside the governor included his Deputy, Philip Shaibu, the governor’s wife, Mrs Betsy Obaseki, the deputy governor’s wife, Mrs Mariann Shaibu, religious and traditional leaders.
Mr Obaseki said he decided to take the first dose of the vaccine to boost the confidence of the people of Edo, despite calls from friends not to take it following news from some countries that they have suspended their vaccination exercises due to the negative impact it has had on some.
‘At this juncture, let me explain why we didn’t start on time but about an hour late; as at this morning when I was coming from Lagos, I received not less than 10 messages advising that I should not take this vaccine that it was not safe and some of these messages came from people abroad and that there are so many countries where this particular vaccine has been put on hold and it’s being checked and tested that in South Africa for instance; the doses meant for them have been rejected and so they are pushing the vaccine to Nigeria.
‘So, I have to call the expert; fortunately, as you know Edo is very blessed with people with human capacity that understand the issues in this area and under the last one hour, we have exhaustively gone through all the so-called risk issues relating to this vaccine, and yes, it may not be hundred per cent full proof, yes, there may be some issues because more than one billion people on earth cannot have the same body constitution; however, on the balance of risk, this vaccine is safe,’ the governor explained.
Governor Obaseki said it was normal for people to entertain fears of risk, saying that it happened when the vaccine for the eradication of polio was first introduced into the country.
‘When the polio vaccines were introduced years ago, the same fear was expressed; however, the world went ahead with vaccinating against polio. It may not have been 100 per cent, but today we have been able to kick out polio from our society.
‘I decided this morning against all pressure to make myself available to take the vaccine and I have done so.
‘It is a painless exercise and I will be surprised if there will be any side effects,’ he said.
The state governor said the state has received 81,080 doses of the vaccine, which will be administered in two doses and that such means that the state is set to inoculate not less than 40,000 people in its first phase.
He added that the importance of the process cannot be overemphasised, saying it is crucial to the survival of the people, particularly our frontline health workers, the elderly and those who are living with co-morbidities.
He said the vaccination against the virus will help boost immunity.
‘This exercise has started today and it will continue through the week and during this time we intend to get the vaccine to people in the frontline in our hospitals and other relevant health facilities. Also, we will vaccinate leaders and key stakeholders in society to boost public confidence in the efficacy of the vaccine.
‘The main objective of the COVID19 vaccination exercise is to accelerate the spread of our health immunity which will ultimately slow down and interrupt the transmission of COVID19 in the state and in the entire country,’ he said.