The first jab of AstraZeneca Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine has been administered in Lagos State. The Incident Commander in the State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, kicked off the vaccine rollout programme after he got the first jab of the serum supplied by the Federal Government.
Sanwo-Olu was vaccinated on Friday afternoon at the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) in Yaba, behind the Deputy Incident Commander and Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, who took the first shot.
The Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, also got the shot of the vaccine.
Speaking after the injection, the Governor corroborated the World Health Organization (W.H.O), testifying to the safety of the vaccine. He said there was no reason for anyone to panic over the desirability of the inoculant, while urging frontline workers enrolled in priority list to take shots of the vaccine within stipulated period.
He said: “I have just received a shot of AstraZeneca vaccine and I don’t feel awkward. This falls in line with what the W.H.O has been saying about the safety of the vaccine. I commend all our numerous health workers for their sacrifice. The IDH is still the epicentre of our COVID-19 response; that is why I came here for the vaccination.
“We have also started administering the vaccine to our health workers, who are part of the frontline workers we identified in the rollout programme. All other frontline workers in other hospitals are also receiving the vaccine and they should continue with the process, as we roll out our strategy on how people need to be vaccinated.”
Sanwo-Olu urged the public to refrain from churning out unsubstantiated information about the vaccine, asking residents to allow the science lead the nation out of the pandemic.
The Governor said he was optimistic that the nation would be out of this pandemic if the vaccine rollout programme went as planned.
The vaccination programme started across three centres – IDH, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) and Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Metta. In the coming days, the rollout programme will also take place simultaneously at other 85 designated locations within Lagos for frontline workers captured in the first phase, who include medical workers, policemen, military officers, laboratory scientists, port health workers, judicial officers and rapid response teams.
Earlier in a briefing, Prof. Abayomi said the Federal and the State Governments had inspected data associated with vaccinations around the world, including the clinical trials of all COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that they are safe for use in the country after approval by W.H.O. He stressed that the risk of not receiving the vaccine was higher than the chance of taking ill from COVID-19.
He said: “We are encouraging all Lagosians, and Nigerians by extension to see the period of vaccination as an opportunity to achieve herd immunity and build collective capacity as a community to resist the transmission of an infectious agent across our communities. If we are able to achieve herd immunity in Lagos and other communities, then we will be able to reduce the chance of the virus from propagating itself and developing variants.”
The Commissioner said those that enrolled in the vaccination programme would get two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine each within 12 weeks apart. The first dose, Prof. Abayomi said, will help achieve about 60 per cent protection, while the second dose would give above 80 per cent protection.
“It is important to emphasise that, after being vaccinated, it doesn’t guarantee that you would not contract COVID-19. There is still a possibility of contracting the virus, but the chance of developing severe to critical disease significantly diminish if you have achieved this level of immunity” Prof. Abayomi said.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, hailed the media in Lagos for ensuring accurate information in reporting the State’s COVID-19 responses. He pleaded with the media to sustain accuracy in disseminating information and reports of the vaccination programme.
Country Representative of the W.H.O., Dr. Walter Mulombo, re-emphasised the safety of the vaccine, urging Nigerians to participate in the rollout programme.
The kick-off of the vaccination programme in Lagos was witnessed by various international agencies, including United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Rotary, and Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), among others.