President Muhammadu Buhari will today take his first dose of the newly acquired Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.
“To increase public confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, President Muhammadu Buhari will be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine Saturday, March 6th, 2021 at the New Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa at 11:30 a.m.”, the NPHCDA, the agency at the centre of the vaccination for Nigeria, announced Friday evening.
Nigeria on Tuesday took delivery of nearly four million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to the country in batches over the next few months. The vaccines are being provided by COVAX, an unprecedented global effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Upon arrival, samples were handed to NAFDAC, the Nigerian food and drug regulatory agency, for further examination.
Nigeria on Friday commenced the vaccination, beginning with healthcare workers who are often at the risk of exposure to infections being the first responders to patients.
Cyprian Ngong, a medical doctor, became the first person to receive a jab of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines in Nigeria. Three other health workers were also vaccinated during the flag-off event at the National Hospital in Abuja.
The executive secretary of the NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib, had on Monday announced that President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will pick dates on which they will be vaccinated publicly.
President Buhari is yet to officially issue a statement on the arrival of the vaccines and his own vaccination.
Weeks before the arrival of the vaccines, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, who addressed journalists in Abuja after meeting with President Buhari late January, said he and his colleagues will take the vaccines on live television.
“We too will like to demonstrate to our citizens that we believe that vaccines would work,” he said.
“Don’t forget, we have a lot of experience on this. Governors Forum managed the polio vaccines administration in the country and we have garnered a lot of experience,” said Mr Fayemi, the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum.
Health workers, frontline workers, COVID-19 rapid response team, laboratory network, police officers, petrol station workers and strategic leaders are among those to be vaccinated in the first phase of Nigeria’s vaccine rollout.
President Buhari last November had expressed delight with the successful human trial phase of the first set of vaccines including that of Pfizer and Moderna.
The president, who described the development as a major milestone in medical advance, warned that the world must unite in facilitating the equitable access and distribution of these vaccines to protect people in all countries.
“Only a people’s vaccine with equality and solidarity at its core can protect all of humanity and get our societies safely running again. A bold international agreement cannot wait”, the president said according to a statement issued by his spokesperson, Garba Shehu.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, speaking at the commencement of COVID-19 vaccination at the national hospital on Friday warned Nigerians against playing politics with the COVID-19 vaccines rollout.
“We must not play politics with vaccines, we must not play politics with the health of our neighbours, we must be on the same page whilst we also, do what we need to do in terms of role in checking the government,” Mr Gbajabiamila said.