* Deputy, not gov, takes the first shot
By Ignatius Chukwu
Rivers State is about 8m persons by 2021 population projection but the state government has assured all citizens of vaccination as 150,000 doses are ready.
At the flag-off, it was the deputy governor, a female medical doctor, that took the first shot in place of the governor. In Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari along with his deputy, took the first shot to reassure Nigerians on its safety.
The flag-off which took place Tuesday March 16, 2021 in Government House has continued late in the evening in other parts of the state capital. By 6pm, the health boss in the state, Prof Princewill Chike, was still seen in the field supervising activities.
The state government said the vaccination would promote immunity and reduce infection in the State. Gov Nyesom Wike, who performed the flag-off on Tuesday at Government House, Port Harcourt, described the exercise as historic in the fight against Covid-19.
Represented by his deputy, Dr Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, a medical doctor, Governor Wike said since the outbreak of Covid-19 in December 2019, many people had found it difficult to cope with the disruption of their livelihood, and their health.
“We are therefore thankful to God to have another layer of medical intervention in the form of vaccine to help reduce infection, promote immunity, and restore social confidence.
Governor Wike said the State government efforts at Covid-19 containment was strategic after the state recorded its first case on 25th March 2020.
Accordingly, in both waves of the pandemic, Governor Wike said, the State Government synergised with the private sector, and the National Centre for Disease Control to achieve an acceptable level of public health.
“The vaccine used in this campaign have received authorisation by World Health Organisation (WHO) and are therefore effective and safe for administration.
“They will help reduce disease transmission, disease severity, and death from Covid-19. I encourage you to follow the guidelines for the vaccine roll-out and avail yourselves the opportunity to be protected from this deadly virus and to protect others.
“This first phase of the vaccination, is mainly for frontline healthcare workers and strategic leaders. In the following weeks, more citizens will have the opportunity to get vaccinated.”
On his part, Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike said Governor Wike response to fighting Covid-19 in the state has been dogged and laced with strategic leadership.
“It is easy for people to forget when certain things happen. But if you remember from March 2020, the governor himself visited churches, places of worships and other places of public gathering to make sure protocol of Covid-19 were kept.
“Executive Orders were also approved by the Rivers State Executive Council and signed by him. A lot of resources have been put into the combating of covid-19 in Rivers State.
“With a particular test of covid-19 costing N50 thousand, for now, Rivers State has collected over 135 thousand samples, and the cost is borne by the Rivers State Government.”
Top leaders of the government and ruling party were present to lend credence to the exercise.