Federal authorities have appealed to Nigerians not to be hesitant to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it gets to Nigeria.
Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, and head of Nigeria’s primary healthcare agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, made the appeal at the PTF briefing on Thursday in Abuja.
Nigeria intends to get 42 million COVID-19 vaccines to cover one fifth of its population through the global COVAX scheme, the PTF had earlier announced.
The initial vaccines would come as part of Nigeria’s plan to inoculate 40 percent of the population in 2021 and another 30 per cent in 2022, with 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arriving by the end of January 2021.
The COVAX scheme was set up to provide vaccines to poorer countries including Nigeria whose 200 million people and poor infrastructure posed a daunting challenge to medical officials rolling out the vaccinations .
Mr. Shuaib said President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and other prominent Nigerians are willing to be among the first set of Nigerians to receive the vaccine on live television to help drive acceptance.
“This is in accordance with terms of the prioritisation of vaccines and strategic country leadership.
“These critical leaders and others would likely take the vaccine in full glare of the public to demonstrate that this vaccine is safe.
“So, we have to make provisions for them.
“Even in developed countries, what we have seen is that apart from the prioritisation of health workers, you have to also identify with critical leaders that you don’t want to be wiped off by the virus.
“For example, in warfare, if you want to destroy your enemies, you look for specific leaders, captains, the generals; once you decapitate them, then the soldiers will become weak.
“So, as much as possible, you do not want to also leave your leaders vulnerable to COVID-19, it doesn’t mean you want to prioritise politicians, that is not correct,’’ he said.
The U.S President-elect, Joe Biden, in December 2020, received a COVID-19 vaccine on live television in a demonstration intended to encourage Americans to receive shots of their own when they could.
Also, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu was vaccinated against the COVID-19 on live television on Saturday, becoming the first Israeli and one of the world’s leaders to be inoculated.
Mr. Shuaib also emphasised that health workers would be given priority to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it arrives Nigeria because they are the ones in direct contact with cases in isolation units.