Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau state alongside his Deputy Professor Sonni Gwanle Tyoden on Monday took the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccines, after officially receiving the doses allocated to the State.
The Governor’s wife, Regina Lalong and other top government officials were also vaccinated.
Lalong who spoke shortly after being vaccinated said Today marks another important milestone in our fight against the Corona Virus Pandemic which has negatively impacted our lives in many ways.
The commencement of the administration of the first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine today is clear progress in tackling the disease in Plateau State.
Lalong said, “As I promised severally, I am the first to take the vaccine in Plateau State not only because I am the Governor, but because of the need to show example and reassure the citizens that there is nothing to fear about the vaccine.”
” I am aware of the conspiracy theories being propagated by some people particularly in the social media aimed at discouraging people from accepting the vaccines.”
He further said that “Although this is almost a common pattern associated with the introduction of many vaccines in history, there is yet to be any scientific evidence of foul play on the COVID-19 vaccines being introduced.”
“It is important to note that the vaccine had been approved by the European Medicines Agency and the World Health Organization based on global clinical trials involving 23,000 participants. In addition, Nigerian regulators such as NAFDAC evaluated the vaccines upon arrival in the country. All of these evaluations have concluded that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective.”
“That is why as a Government, we have to work hard on the issue of sensitization and awareness among our people to ensure that the rumors and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories do not gain ground.”
Lalong also said that “COVID-19 remains a real threat to many people not only in our state but around the country and the world at large. This is time for proactive measures rather than complacency and fear.”
“That is why even before we received our first consignment of the vaccines totaling 105,600 doses, the Government began preparations for the smooth storage, distribution, and administration of the vaccines across the 17 Local Government Areas.
“For the first phase, we have designated 102 locations where the vaccines will be administered in all the Local Government Areas of Plateau State. Those to be covered are frontline health workers and those on essential duties. ”
The Governor further said The second phase will capture the elderly (50 years and above) and people with underlying illnesses. Every other eligible person will be captured in the third phase. We hope to increase the vaccination centres in the State to about 700 in subsequent phases.
Let me reiterate that no one will be compelled to take the vaccine as the administration is totally voluntary. However, I wish to remind our citizens that the law criminalizing the denial of COVID-19 in Plateau State is still in force. Therefore, those who want to engage in spreading conspiracy theories and mobilizing others against taking the vaccine will not be allowed.
I want to reassure our people that as your Governor, I will not subscribe to anything that will harm you nor affect your well-being. Rather, my number one priority is to ensure your safety and good health.
That is why I, His Excellency the Deputy Governor, the Rt. Hon. Speaker, Chief Judge, traditional and religious leaders, as well as heads of medical institutions in the State are taking the first doses to show that there is nothing sinister about the vaccine.
As a member of the Nigerian Governors Forum Committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, I stand to tell you that I have followed the process religiously and asked all the possible questions on the impact of vaccines on human beings.
So far, there is no evidence to suggest that there is any adverse effect on those that have taken it, particularly in Nigeria. However, we must adhere to the advice of medical experts who are managing the process.
Let me again appeal to our religious, traditional, political and community leaders to continue to sensitize the people not only to accepting the vaccines but adhering to laid down protocols for COVID-19.
Taking the vaccine should not be a license to abandoning the protocols such as wearing facemasks, observing social distancing, and keeping to hygiene practices. We should not increase the risk.
This is more so when the vaccine supply to cover the entire population will come gradually and not at once. We have to continue to keep ourselves safe and also safeguard others.
It is important to state that the vaccines are absolutely free and no one should be charged for them. Anyone found to be extorting people for the vaccines will be dealt with according to the law. I encourage our citizens to register for the vaccine by visiting www.nphcdaict.com.ng for easier and faster scheduling for the vaccine.
He also said that it is my hope that while we are continuing with this vaccination, NAFDAC will give approval to the submission by the Plateau State COVID-19 Medical Research Team so that we can have our homegrown remedy for containing the pandemic.
” I wish us all a successful vaccination exercise and look forward to taking the second dose of the vaccine to complete the process. ”