Frontline health workers championing the country’s fight against COVID-19 pandemic in Lagos have called on Nigerians to enrol for the ongoing vaccination exercise.
The exercise started with the vaccination of essential workers including policemen, petrol station workers and strategic leaders, amongst others.
Currently being administered to Nigerians above the age 50 years the exercise has so far recorded an impressive turnout across the country with over 600,000 Nigerians vaccinated in three weeks, and Lagos accounting for 122,714 of the total number of vaccinated Nigerians.
Recall that Nigeria in early February, received the first batch of 3.94 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines and another 300,000 doses from telecom giant, MTN, as part of corporate social responsibility contribution to Africa.
The Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with NPHCDA had at the commencement of the vaccination activities announced that the exercise would be in four phases.
With frontline workers being the first to be administered the vaccines; the second phase which is currently ongoing is for older adults aged 50 years and above.
While phase three had been set aside for residents of states/LGAs with high disease burden, phase 4 will attend to other eligible population.
Faluyi Oluwakemi, the ward focal person for Ifako General Hospital vaccination centre, told EnviroNews during an assessment visit that the vaccination exercise was seamless.
She discarded ungrounded claims that the AstraZeneca vaccine was not safe, adding that no complaint beyond regular reactions had been recorded so far.
“So far, the vaccination exercise has been seamless. The turnout has been very impressive, but Nigerians needs to come out to be vaccinated; the narrative that the vaccines are not safe is very untrue,” she said.
“It is important that they also adhere to the schedule of the government, we are currently attending to frontline workers, and Nigerians above the ages of 50. Other populations will get vaccinated subsequently,” she added.
On her part, Oloyede Omotilewa, the Local government immunisation officer of Ifako Primary Health Centre, said the centre had recorded an impressive turnout since the exercise started three weeks back.
She also played down fears that the vaccine is not safe for use, adding that the vaccine will only push out stored up ailments in the body.
“The turnout is very good, people are aware of the vaccination exercise and also know the importance of being vaccinated, we had to turn back those that are not eligible,” Mrs Omotilewa said.
“No adverse effect has been reported so far by people that got vaccinated at our centre, the only thing I’ve observed is that the vaccines pushed out stored up ailment. For instance, if you had malaria prior to the time you get vaccinated, you might feel symptoms of malaria after you take the vaccine. But asides from that there is no issue with the vaccine,” she added.
She encouraged all Nigerians to ensure that they all get vaccinated to rid the country of the deadly COVID-19 virus.
Also, Mrs Funmilola Ajayi, the assistant Chief nursing officer of Ojodu Primary Health Centre, lauded the turnout of Nigerians for the vaccination exercise.
She pleaded with Nigerians to adhere to the schedule for vaccination as released by the Federal Government to avoid overcrowding.
“At the beginning of this exercise, health workers were not forthcoming, it was much later that they started turning up,” she said.
She added that her centre was always filled with ineligible Nigerians, pleading that they waited for their turn to get vaccinated.
On the safety of the vaccines, Mrs Ajayi said: “Just like the virus, the adverse effect of the vaccine on Nigerians is not much. The vaccine is safe, people have taken it, and nothing happened to them.”
Further encouraging all Nigerians to get vaccinated, Mrs Ajayi stated that the benefits of taking the vaccines outweigh the dangers surrounding their usage.
However, frontline workers who have received the vaccine stated that the vaccine did not have any adverse effect on them.
Bukunmi Okewunmi, who got vaccinated on Thursday, March 25, 2021 said she only felt a bit drowsy after taking the vaccine, but she got much better some minutes later.
“When I took the vaccine, I felt a bid drowsy, but felt much better later,” she said.
Asked if she nursed any form of fear before taking the vaccine, Okewunmi added “I had no reason to nurse any doubts because the doctors had counselled me on likely reactions to the vaccine.”
She also hailed the health workers for making the vaccination exercise less stressful.
Also, Nathaniel Oseyemi Adekolu, a clergyman that fell in the category of Nigerians above the age of 50, told EnviroNews he felt very normal after being administered the vaccine.
Adding that he believed in miracles, the clergyman encouraged Nigerians to take the vaccines.
He said: “There is no reason to be scared. We give to children and they get vaccinated this is not any different, it is only to boost our immune system to fight against COVID.
“I believe in miracles, divine health, but you need to do what God has given you the power to do and leave what you cannot do for God.” With over 600,000 Nigerians administered the first dose so far, the Federal Government’s plan to ensure that at least 109 million people are vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus over a period of two years might be achieved in less than one year.
By Emeka Ayo Joseph