Abuja, March 15, 2021 – After Yunusa Thairu became one of the earliest COVID-19 vaccine recipients in Nigeria, his mother received a text message that her son had taken the vaccine and that something bad could possibly happen to him.
“She was very worried and called me,” the doctor recalls. “I had to go down to see her and reassure her that I was fine. [that] There is nothing wrong with taking the vaccine. Seeing how healthy I was, she agreed to take the vaccine as soon as it becomes available. “
Her son, a medical advisor at the United Nations Nigeria Isolation Center in Durumi, Abuja and the University of Abuja Gwagwalada Teaching Hospital, is among the 1 million health workers targeted by the Nigerian government in the first phase of its nationwide introduction of COVID -19 Vaccinations starting this month.
“I enjoy things like that when I take the lead and others follow,” says Dr. Thairu. “This pandemic has affected my work life in many ways. I see it as a call to the brave to come out and be counted.”
As Dr. Thairu, many Nigerians are eager for the vaccine.
“I’m excited about this vaccine,” says Patience Peter. “We can finally feel good. If everyone takes it, we won’t be afraid of getting infected or losing a loved one. My friends lost their parents and loved ones, but it didn’t affect me directly. It’s still sad to see people lose their lives to something that can be prevented. I can’t wait to get vaccinated. “
In addition to the frontline health workers in the first phase of the national vaccination campaign, it includes support workers and other health workers, as well as first responders at military, paramilitary and other security agencies, including immigration authorities.
Once the health workers are vaccinated, the second phase of introduction is aimed at adults aged 50 and over (with or without an underlying disease), but aged 60 and over. Phase 3 enrolls people between the ages of 18 and 49 with underlying conditions (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, lung disease, cancer, and heart disease). And the fourth phase will extend to anyone in that age group with no underlying condition.
“The demand and the sensitization of critical interest groups have been prepared intensively for the introduction of vaccines,” emphasizes Dr. Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director of the National Agency for Primary Health Care. Its agency and partner agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), have implemented electronic self-registration and door-to-door registration for the vaccination campaign in the 36 states and federal capital territory.
Dr. Shuaib also emphasizes the “pledge and subsequent certification by the National Agency for the Administration and Control of Food and Medicines” that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which the nationwide campaign begins, is “safe to use”.
Although he is aware of all types of COVID-19 vaccine candidates on the market, according to Dr. Shuaib the Federal Ministry of Health and its authorities, the National Agency for the Development of Primary Health Care and the National Agency for the Administration and Control of Food and Drugs ensure this in the country only COVID-19 vaccines approved by the WHO are introduced. “That’s why we’re prioritizing the number of vaccines that are introduced – a maximum of two or three, depending on availability.”
Nigeria is expected to receive 84 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility jointly managed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund, The World becomes bank, civil society organizations, manufacturers and others. COVAX is part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a groundbreaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and fair access of COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.
Nigeria will receive 41.3 million doses of vaccine from April through the African Export-Import Bank and the African Union.
“We are not ruling out public hesitation about the vaccine, but we are taking steps to educate and raise awareness that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective,” assures Dr. Shuaib.
Dr. Thairu says heightened vaccine safety news is needed to combat hesitation. “The misinformation in the news media is alarming,” he says. “Many messages on how to use non-pharmaceutical methods to prevent and cure COVID-19 go on and on. I think this is the time for us to use social media and the like to raise awareness about this vaccine and educate people about its importance in containing the disease. “
Godwin Okpara, for example, isn’t sure he’ll take the vaccine. He admits the conspiracy theories make him nervous and wonders how the vaccine will affect him in the future. “I lost two loved ones in this pandemic and I don’t want to lose another person,” he admits. But he doesn’t know what to trust. “Me and my family are still debating whether to take it when it is available to everyone.”
The government’s strategy to calm fears and create queues for anti-coronavirus vaccination includes high profile recipients such as the country’s president and vice-presidents (already vaccinated), governors and deputy governors, meeting house speakers, chief judges and religious leaders.
“We will continue to use all available channels and media to educate the public and provide clarifications if necessary,” says Dr. Shuaib.
“This vaccine is a moral booster,” says Dr. Thairu. “This will increase our confidence as health workers and our ability to take in more patients and eradicate COVID-19. It will bring us multiplier effects as more people are now ready to participate in the reaction. “
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Bakano Otto Senior Editor / Author E-Mail: [email protected]