Governor Bala Mohammed has flagged off the commencement of the second phase of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination campaign in the state when he alongside his wife, Aisha Bala Mohammed, his Deputy, Senator Baba Tela and other top government officials took their second jabs of the vaccine.
While flagging off the exercise at the Banquet Hall, Government House in Bauchi on Saturday, Bala expressed his appreciation to the development partners, health workers, religious and traditional leaders for their synergy and collaboration in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
The Governor said that “We are very pleased to be here to take our second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and based on statistics, we are doing well in Bauchi and therefore we must thank stakeholders for their support in achieving this.”
He also said that “I must say and appreciate on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari that in Bauchi, any time the President and I presents ourselves for something, the people of Bauchi gives us support and respect and with that, we are very appreciative.”
The Governor used the medium to appeal to the federal government to support the state government in ensuring the availability of the vaccines to ensure total coverage of the citizens.
In his remarks, State Commissioner of Health, Dr Aliyu Maigoro Mohammed said that a total of 47,290 people have so far been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine against the novel COVID-19 pandemic in the first dose in Bauchi, representing 84 per cent of the targeted population of frontline health workers, government officials, traditional and religious leaders.
The Commissioner also said that the coverage was very significant as the targeted audience turned out to receive the first shot across the state regretting, however, that response to the vaccination was very poor and discouraging from the Northern zone of the state particularly in Katagum LGA, stressing that a lot needs to be done to overcome the challenge from the area.
Maigoro added that research has revealed that after the second dose, there is protection from being infected by the virus, assuring that everyone who took the two shots need not fear infection but should continue with the established preventive protocols.
In his overview, Chairman, State Taskforce on COVID-19 and Lassa Fever, Baba Tela commended the people of Bauchi State for coming out for vaccination in the first round, saying that almost all the frontline health workers have taken the first dose.
Tela who is the Deputy Governor of the state assured that all those who took the first shots of the vaccine will take the second dose because according to him, the NPHCDA has reviewed the duration between the doses.
He then commended the Governor Bala for supporting the Taskforce in carrying out the vaccination, assuring that as soon as more of the vaccine is made available to the state, the public vaccination will be embarked upon.
In a keynote address, representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Ahmed Khedr said the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine has significantly contributed to mitigating the impact of the outbreak of the virus in the state by reducing morbidity and mortality rates.
He also said that the vaccine will therefore protect high-risk populations and other persons in alignment with existing COVID-19 response plans including the state COVID-19 pandemic response plan and the National Integrated Health Sector Response Plan.
According to him, the COVID-19 vaccine is a key strategy in the achievement of herd immunity towards COVID-19 infection among the populace and therefore said it is important to get the second dose of the vaccine even if the first had a minimum side effect.
The WHO official said that “Bauchi state achieved a milestone by reaching up to 84 per cent of its eligible population for the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Success in the role out of the first dose was achieved through the support from the National and the state government”.
He further said that “The political will and commitment to His Excellency, the Governor of Bauchi state, in terms of public demonstration of first to receive the vaccine, public pronouncements, and financial support are commendable.”
The WHO official recommended a robust strategy to reinforce confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines, dialogues, strategies to address hesitancy and recognises the key roles healthcare professionals play in improving vaccine acceptance by being in contact with patients regularly.
“The vaccines are not a perfect fit for COVID-19 infection. We will still need to practice other precautions (non-pharmaceutical measures) like wearing of face masks, observing social distancing, and handwashing until public health officials say otherwise.”
On his part, the Executive Chairman of Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Rilwanu Mohammed applauded Governor Bala for supporting the COVID-19 task force to discharge its assigned responsibilities of tackling COVID-19 infection in the state.
Rilwanu said so far, 47,290 people in Bauchi have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic in the first dose of the exercise.