COVID-19 vaccination kicks-off in Benue, 18 March

By Florence Ugbem and Egbe Attah, Otukpo

Benue State Action Committee on COVID-19 has announced that administration of the Oxford Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine would commence in the state on Thursday, 18 March, 2021.

Making this known at a recent emergency COVID-19 Committee meeting, held at the New Banquet Hall, Benue People’s House, Makurdi, the Chairman, Action Committee and Deputy Governor of Benue State, Engr Benson Abounu disclosed that the flag-off will take place at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi. He added that the administration of the vaccine would begin with frontline health workers and government appointees.

Engr Abounu further stated that the committee moved for voluntary administration of the Oxford Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine. He explained that the decision follows adverse effects from the vaccine, whereby over 12 European countries have discontinued the administering of the vaccine.

According to him, the decision is in line with the regulation that followed the procurement of the  vaccine, stating that it should be voluntarily taken.

Executive Secretary, Primary Healthcare Board, Dr Ben Ageda revealed that the state took delivery of  73,180 doses of Oxford Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine on 2 March, 2021. He also revealed that health workers from the 23 local government areas in the state have been trained on administering of COVID-19 vaccination.

Dr Ageda explained that in case of adverse effect or  complications from the vaccine, referral centres have been created, stating that the 23 general hospitals in the state have formed part of the referral centres. He added that a team is already on ground for data collection and to document adverse effect from the vaccine.

Representative of World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Israel Popoola, assured that the vaccine is safe and effective and advised Benue people not to be afraid but to make themselves available to receive the vaccine.

In a related development, the Chairman of Otukpo Local Government Council, George Alli, has called on the people of the area to make themselves available for the COVID-19 vaccination, whenever the exercise begins in the local government.

A release by the chairman’s Special Adviser on Media and Gender Affairs, Desmond O’ogwu, quotes his principal as appealing to the council and medical workers in the area to take the call seriously, stressing that, the vaccine is harmless to humans and would help prevent the spread of Coronavirus in the council.

The chairman made the call recently when he received the World Health Organisation (WHO) LGAF, Mercy Chia, accompanied by Sunday Attah, State Technical Facilitator (STF); the Director of Health, Otukpo Local Government Health Authority, Margaret Odada and the Supervisory Counsellor for Health, Ene Yusuf, during her advocacy visit to the council secretariat.

 Alli said, “I want to use this medium to call on our people to turn up for the COVID-19 vaccine inoculation. The vaccine is meant to boost human immunity against the dreaded Coronavirus and it has not recorded any adverse effects.”

Speaking, Chia thanked the chairman for the warm reception accorded them. She noted that there are lots of rumours and conspiracy theories concerning the vaccines, but urged the people to ignore such rumours as they have no scientific backing.

“Since this vaccine arrived Nigeria on the 4th of March, 2021, many Nigerians, including Mr President have all been vaccinated, but none of them have any complaints,” Chia maintained.

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