From Tony John, Port Harcourt
The Rivers State Government has commenced the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination exercise in the state that would help to promote immunity and reduce infection.
Deputy Governor Dr Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, representing Governor Nyesom Wike to perform the flag-off at Government House, Port Harcourt, described the exercise as historic in the fight against COVID-19.
Dr Ipalibo Harry-Banigo said that since the outbreak of COVID-19 in December 2019 many people have found it difficult to cope with the disruption to their livelihoods and health.
‘We are, therefore, thankful to God to have another layer of medical intervention in the form of vaccine to help reduce infection, promote immunity, and restore social confidence,’ she said.
She added that the state government’s efforts at COVID-19 containment was strategic after the state recorded its first case on March 25, 2020.
According to her, in both waves of the pandemic, the state government synergised with the private sector and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to achieve an acceptable level of public health.
‘The vaccine used in this campaign have received authorisation by World Health Organisation (WHO) and are, therefore, effective and safe for administration,’ she said.
‘They will help reduce disease transmission, disease severity, and death from COVID-19. I encourage you to follow the guidelines for the vaccine roll-out and avail yourselves the opportunity to be protected from this deadly virus and to protect others.
‘This first phase of the vaccination is mainly for frontline healthcare workers and strategic leaders. In the following weeks, more citizens will have the opportunity to get vaccinated.’
On his part, Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, said Governor Wike’s response to fighting COVID-19 in the state has been dogged and laced with strategic leadership.
‘It is easy for people to forget when certain things happen. But, if you remember from March, 2020, the governor himself visited churches, places of worships and other places of public gathering to make sure protocol of COVID-19 were kept,’ Chike stated.
‘Executive Orders were also approved by the Rivers State Executive Council and signed by him. A lot of resources have been put into the combating of COVID-19 in Rivers State.
‘With a particular test of COVID-19 costing N50 thousand, for now, Rivers State has collected over 135 thousand samples, and the cost is borne by the Rivers State Government.’
Rivers State Deputy Governor Dr Harry-Banigo, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof Zacchaeus Adangor, State Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party Ambassador Desmond Akawor, Commissioner for Health Prof Chike, Chief of Staff to the Governor Emeka Woke and the Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Peter Medee, were among several government functionaries that were vaccinated on Tuesday.