***Vaccine safe for use, say WHO, others
By Steve Oni, Ilorin
Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on has taken a jab of the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, calling its discovery a watershed in the global campaign against the deadly virus.
The Governor had the vaccine administered on him by the Chairman of the Kwara State Medical Advisory Committee Dr. Femi Oladiji.
AbdulRazaq had earlier flagged off the vaccination exercise in Ilorin, the state capital, with frontline health workers first receiving their own jabs in compliance with the directive of the Federal Government.
He said: “Earlier this week, we received our consignment of the COVID-19 Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The consignment contains exactly 55,790 doses and devices. That is our share of the first batch of the vaccine. Today’s flag off of the vaccination in Kwara State clearly represents an important phase in our management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The vaccine comes well recommended by various medical regulatory bodies in Nigeria and beyond. The decision for leaders to take the first jabs is to build public confidence in the vaccine and erase whatever doubts members of the public may have about it. COVID-19 is real. We are glad to be getting over it with the development of this vaccine.”
He urged members of the public to take the vaccine which is meant to build herd immunity against the virus.
The kickoff of the vaccination was attended by top government functionaries and dignitaries, including Deputy Governor Kayode Alabi; House of Assembly Speaker Rt. Hon. Yakubu Danladi; House of Assembly Committee Chairman on Health AbdulRazaq Owolabi; and Emir of Shonga Dr Haliru Yahya.
The Governor commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his leadership and the entire team that played active roles on the battle against this pandemic in the country.
“I commend the Kwara State medical team for their priceless job of keeping us safe while the pandemic raged! We are very proud of your sacrifices and commitment to the Hippocratic oath as medical workers. I also thank members of the COVID-19 committee for their work and our traditional institutions for their support,” according to the Governor.
Pharmacist Katibi Mustapha of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the vaccine has been certified by the organisation and the NAFDAC, assuring the general public of its safety.
Mustapha added that the WHO is impressed with the huge investment AbdulRazaq is making in the health sector, saying this accounts for why the WHO is now identifying with the state.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health Dr Abubakar Olayiwola Ayinla said the early kickoff of the vaccination in Kwara mirrors its current leadership status in the health status as only a few states have met the requirements to receive the vaccines from Abuja.
“Today’s event is an additional manifestation of the Governor’s investment towards producing a functional health system where the six building blocks, namely health financing, information, medical products, consumables and vaccines, service delivery, health workforce and governance, are in place, effective and as stipulated by WHO,” he said.
“Meeting set criteria in record time is only possible in states where these have been deliberately instituted and made to work effectively.”
He dispelled “unfounded claims” against the vaccine, declaring it as safe to use and potent.
Dr. Nusirat Elelu, Executive Secretary of the Kwara State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, said the event was another milestone in the national response to the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Covid-19 vaccination campaign will be conducted in 4 phases. For phase one, we are targeting our health workers, other front liners, and our strategic leaders. The campaign will last for 10 days and will be given in two doses at 12 weeks interval,” she said.
The Emir of Shonga called for serious advocacies for the use of the vaccine.
“Advocacy for this vaccine is even tougher than the advocacy for the Covid-19. If you don’t believe something is wrong with you how can I give you treatment? So we need to convince our people that to take it is better than not taking it. And for those of you who are traveling, if you don’t take it, sooner or later they are going to ask for your certificate, even for pilgrimages,” he submitted.