FG assures Nigerians access to safe COVID-19 vaccines

The Federal Government has assured Nigerians of access to safe coronavirus vaccines to stem the pandemic.

Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, gave the assurance at a town hall meeting of the North Central zone in Lafia on Tuesday.

The town hall meeting on vaccination was organised by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 in collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA).

Ehanire said that the AstraZeneca vaccine currently being administered was very safe, adding that the government would only allow safe vaccines into the country even in the future.

“Our mission here today is to reassure the traditionalists, faithful and community leaders that the vaccines Nigeria uses are tested and safe.

”And we urge leaders to recommend it to families and communities as the best protection against the dreaded disease,” he said.

The minister said that the government and other relevant authorities had put the necessary machinery in motion to ensure that 70 per cent of eligible citizens were vaccinated in the next two years.

“We must contribute to the desired 70 per cent to be vaccinated and not just an act of individual self-protection but a civic duty to curtail the spread of the virus.

“Every one of us have a role in the effort to stem the virus by being vaccinated, promote vaccination and observe the safety protocols of wearing face mask, regular hand washing with soap and maintaining physical distancing,” he said.

Ehanire, therefore, advised the public, including those vaccinated to adhere to the safety protocols till further notice to contain the spread of the virus.

Dr Faisal Shuaib, PHCDA Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, commended the governments and stakeholders of the North Central states for attending the town hall meeting.

Shuaib said that the North Central meeting was the first of its kind and was scheduled to hold in all the six geo-political zones of the country to brief citizens on the importance and benefits of vaccination against COVID-19.

He noted that over 2,000 people had died of coronavirus complications in the country since the first case was confirmed in Lagos on Feb. 27, 2020.

“We successfully took delivery of the first batch of four million doses of vaccine on March 2, developed by Oxford University and produced by the British-Swedish Company, AstraZeneca, but manufactured under license by the Serum Institute of India.

“As at April 20, 1,110, 820 Nigerians, representing 55.2 per cent of the eligible people have received their first dose of the vaccine, with the second dose assured,” he said.

The PHCDA boss noted that the meeting was in line with the principles of pro-active community engagement, transparency and accountability of the Presidential Steering Committee.

He said the meeting was also aimed at ensuring that Nigerians were provided with the correct information required to make an informed decision about accepting the vaccine.

Shuaib assured Nigerians that government would never compromise in ensuring safe health care delivery in the country.

In his goodwill message, Sidi Bage, Emir of Lafia, said the vaccine was safe and pledged the support of the traditional rulers in the state toward the success of the vaccination.

The town hall meeting was attended by governors, government officials from the North Central states and senators from the zone. (NAN).