Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau state alongside his Deputy Professor Sonni Gwanle Tyoden, on Monday, took the 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 the commencement of the administration of the first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine 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.”
The Governor who said he is aware of the conspiracy theories being propagated by some people particularly in the social media aimed at discouraging people from accepting the vaccines said there is yet to be any scientific evidence of foul play on the COVID-19 vaccines
“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 rumours and unsubstantiated conspiracy theories do not gain ground.”
Lalong further 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 totalling 105,600 doses, the Government began preparations for the smooth storage, distribution and administration of the vaccines across the 17 Local Government Areas.
He said “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 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. “
He reiterated 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.
He reassured the people that as Governor, he will not subscribe to anything that will harm nor affect their well-being. Rather, his number one priority is to ensure your safety and good health.
“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 the vaccines on human beings.”
He appealed to 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 licence to abandoning the protocols such as wearing facemasks, observing social distancing and keeping to hygiene practices. We should not increase the risk”, he further added.