From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has warned that people are still being lost to the COVID-19 pandemic including prominent Nigerians, stressing that taking the vaccine was now a matter of civic duty to curb the spread of the virus.
The minister stated this Monday at the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) national press briefing on COVID-19 in Abuja.
He warned the pandemic was still active and it was the collective responsibility of citizens to protect lives and livelihoods.
‘The dreaded COVID-19 pandemic is still active and, at intervals, we hear of persons lost to the illness, including some prominent names in our community. It is up to us to rise up as a collective responsibility to protect the lives and livelihoods of citizens against it and mitigate its destructive impact on families and the national economy,’ he said.
‘The most reliable tool to protect ourselves and our families, remains, first of all, compliance with now established public health measures, and secondly the delivery of vaccines to citizens.
‘Workers and members of the public who are in close settings like NYSC camps, hospitals, offices and hostels are particularly exposed and must be a priority for vaccination, especially in view of the very easily transmissible Delta variant and growing evidence that persons not vaccinated are at higher risk of death from COVID-19 infection than the vaccinated. Taking the vaccine is also not just for self-protection, but a civic duty to curtail virus spread.’
The minister also expressed gratitude to countries that have contributed vaccine doses to the country.
‘On behalf of the government, I express appreciation to countries who’ve been generously contributing to our vaccines stock, and so helping us fight Covid-19. The US government has donated over 4 million doses of the Moderna vaccine so far, which arrived through the COVAX facility. We got almost 1.3 million AstraZeneca doses from the UK government on 16 and 26 August and 1.3 million Johnson & Johnson from the African Union doses out of 29,850,000 doses procured. The Canadian government also donated over 800 thousand doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
‘With such availability of vaccines, the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination took off in all 36 states and the FCT.’
He also urged those who have taken their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine to get the second dose from the nearest designated health facility while adding that observations from other countries were that over 90% of COVID-19 case fatalities nowadays are in persons who did not take the COVID-19 vaccine at all and therefore had no protection.
‘Whereas the vaccinated can be covid infected, they are not likely to fall ill, but they can infect others, and close non vaccinated friends and relatives, who can get very ill, possibly lose their lives,’ Dr Ehanire said.
‘There is fatigue in wearing face masks and observing social distancing, etc, in various countries, including Nigeria. We have under 5% vaccination so far, we need to endure the fight even more than countries with over 50%; so I appeal to everyone to endorse, support and encourage vaccination all over the country. Procured or donated vaccines are approved by WHO, tested by NAFDAC and other regulators and certified efficacious and safe. NPHCDA is training private sector providers to administer vaccines, including at company and private clinics. Government health centres are to be included,’ he added.
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