From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike, has commenced the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination that would help to promote immunity and reduce infection in the State.
Governor Wike, while performing the flag-off at Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, described the exercise as historic in the fight against COVID-19.
The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, said since the outbreak of COVID-19 in December, 2019, many people had found it difficult to cope with the disruption of their livelihood and health.
He said: “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”.
Governor Wike said the State government efforts at COVID-19 containment was strategic after the state recorded its first case on March 25, 2020.
According to him, in both waves of the pandemic, the State Government synergised with the private sector, and the National Centre for Disease Control to achieve an acceptable level of public health.
Wike said: “The vaccine used in this campaign have received authorisation by World Health Organisation (WHO) and are, therefore, effective and safe for administration.
“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.
Chike expressed: “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.
“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.”
Deputy Governor, Dr. Harry-Banigo, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, State Chairman of Peoples 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.