Ever since news of a vaccine for COVID-19 hit the airwaves late 2020, divergent reactions have greeted the development. From excitement to hope, anxiety to fear and of course, warnings as well as criticisms – the list of emotions expressed at the development so far is inexhaustive.
For a country like ours where influential personalities continue to peddle theories about COVID-19 being a hoax, where thousands of Nigerians (if not millions) believe absurdities about the pandemic; including the notion that it exists in other climes except ours or that the vaccine is a ploy to implant ‘the mark of the beast’ on them, there is no gainsaying that the government will definitely have to do more in proving that it is a virus to be taken seriously.
If your ears have been to the ground, many Nigerians have even challenged the political class to allow themselves and their children to be administered the vaccine before others if they consider nothing unsafe about it.
True to this, the federal government appears to be saying there is no big deal about the vaccines and that it will be exploring bold steps towards creating awareness and demonstrating that same is safe.
According to the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, who spoke at Thursday’s briefing on COVID-19 by the Presidential Task Force (PTF), 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.
“We will like to see a situation where Mr. president, the vice-president, the SGF, critical leaders come and take the vaccine in the full glare of the public to demonstrate that these vaccines are safe. So we have to make provisions for those,” he said.
Working through the global COVAX scheme set up to provide vaccines to poorer countries including Nigeria, the federal government intends to get 42 million COVID-19 vaccines to cover one fifth of its population.
With the arrival of 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of January, the first batch of inoculation for 40 per cent of the population would be carried out this 2021 and another 30 per cent in 2022.
Shuaib also noted that frontline health workers would be given priority on receiving the vaccine when the doses arrive Nigeria, in accordance with terms of the prioritisation of vaccines and strategic country leadership.
“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,” he added.
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.