Mixed reactions trail COVID-19 vaccination in Nasarawa, Benue

From Esther Akaa, Lafia; and Brenda Agba, Makurdi

Mixed reactions have trailed the on-going vaccination against COVID-I9 in Nasarawa and Benue States.

So far, over 49,000 persons have been vaccinated in  Nasarawa State while the figure for Benue is yet to be declared by the authorities.

But the COVID-19 Vaccination Team Supervisor at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH) Fixed Post, Zaki Mannaseh said the outcome of the vaccination is so far very impressive.

The State Incident Manager for COVID-19 in Nasarawa, Dr Ibrahim Alhassan, in a recent interview with newsmen in Lafia said the figure was out of the over 61,000 doses of Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccine delivered to the state by the federal government.

He stated that the turn up for the vaccination has been impressive, given the high level of enthusiasm showed by residents of the state towards the vaccines.

“For a state that received 61,000 doses of vaccine and we have utilised almost 50,000, within this short while, the issue of low turnout cannot be recorded in Nasarawa State.

“The concern of the people was that some European countries suspended the utilisation of similar vaccines but we have also gotten to know that the European countries have resumed vaccination, so most of them are beginning to change their mind and since we started we have not recorded any complication,” he said.

However, reactions from residents have shown that while others are convinced of the potency of the Astrazeneca COVID-I9 vaccine delivered to the state by the federal government, others are skeptical and have ruled out participating in the exercise.

The Voice spoke with a cross section of residents of Lafia metropolis and got their views concerning the vaccine.

The State Commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism, Dogo Shammah who has taken the vaccine was first to speak on the issue. He dismissed speculations by some people that the COVID-I9 vaccines were sent to kill Africans.

Shammah said although he experienced weakness of the body after taking the vaccine, he has not developed any complications afterwards and called on people to avail themselves for the exercise.

“I took the vaccine, His Excellency the Governor of the state, Engr Abdullahi Sule and all other members of the executive council also took the vaccines but nothing has happened to us. Although I felt a bit weak on the day I received the vaccine but that did not continue. Others who took the vaccine complained of headache which they were advised to drink enough water.

“So I call on residents of the state not to be scared of coming out for the vaccination. There is currently a decrease in the number of positive cases in the country and this could be as a result of the vaccines that are being administered to people across the nation,” he said.

A civil servant in the state, Comrade Osome Isa, said the vaccine came at the right time considering the challenges posed by the COVID-I9 pandemic. He said the pandemic has destroyed lives and the economic system of the country and the discovery of the vaccine will do more good than harm to the people as it will boost immunity of people and protect them from the infection.

“I am in support of the vaccine although I have not taken the vaccine but I have plans of taking it. We have written our names in my place of work and we are waiting for the personnel to come and administer the vaccines to us.

Mrs Rita Obama, a businesswoman said she will take the vaccine if it is made available to everybody in the state. She said; “I will take the vaccine because it is the same way we take vaccines for measles, chicken pox among other communicable diseases to prevent it from spreading, after all, they say prevention is better than cure. I heard that some people are saying they won’t take the vaccine but I believe it was through research that they discovered this vaccine so I am very sure and will take the vaccine.”

She however, advised that vaccination should not be made compulsory, people should be allowed to decide on their own whether to take or leave it.

Other residents, however, said they won’t be receiving the vaccine. Among them is Arc Mohammed Suleiman who said he is not sure of the efficacy of the vaccine and will not take the vaccine. According to him, the vaccine did not go through vigorous research and so may be harmful to human beings.

“I have the right to know what is coming into my flesh and blood, and the consequences in the long run. What are the tests that have been undertaken? what are the reactions and what are the inactions of the vaccine before now? There are speculations from European Union (EU) organisation that this particular  vaccine sent to Africa is not good. This has made the Republic of Congo to stop vaccinating their people, which is one among the 26th African countries that have received the vaccines.”

Similarly, Mrs Rita Obi, a business woman said, “I won’t be taking the COVID-I9 vaccine because the vaccines came too hasty, whereas the issue of HIV has been there for years but nobody discovered a vaccine to prevent it. Other terminal diseases like diabetes, hypertension and many others have also been there without any discovery but COVID-I9 that broke out just last year, they have already developed a vaccine for it.”

Meanwhile, the first phase of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme has recorded an impressive response from Benue people.

The COVID-19 Vaccination Team Supervisor, Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH) Fixed Post, Zaki Mannaseh, made this known when The Voice visited the unit.

According to Zaki, the unit had set a target of vaccinating 60 people per day but sometimes exceeds that number as more people visit the centre in order to be vaccinated.

Speaking on the kind of people that turn out for the exercise, the Team Leader disclosed that people who fall within categories selected for the   first phase which include frontline health workers, security personnel and other front line workers as well as those aged 50 years and above, have been visiting the unit to get themselves vaccinated.

A civil servant in Makurdi, Mr James Ako said, he believes in the efficacy of the vaccine and would not hesitate to go for vaccination. He however, lamented that he is not included in the category of persons eligible for the first phase or the exercise.

“I am not eligible for this first phase of vaccination and hope there will be a second phase soon to include someone like me to participate,” he said.

A nurse at the Federal Medical Centre, Mrs Joy Alu who took the COVID-l9 vaccine jab said, so far, it is safe as she didn’t feel much reactions other than slight headache which however, subsided after she drank plenty water.

Another respondent, Mr Richard Okafor, who owns a provision shop in the Wurukum area of Makurdi said he is suspicious of the COVID-l9 vaccine.

“How come they were so quick in discovering a vaccine in so short a time, whereas, other dangerous viral diseases are yet to have a vaccine,” he stated.

Recall that the state government had announced earlier that vaccination against COVID-19 in the state is voluntary.


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