The Rivers State Government has begun the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination to curb the spread of the deadly disease in the state.
Inaugurating the exercise on Tuesday in Port Harcourt, Gov. Nyesom Wike described it as “historic” in the fight against COVID-19.
Wike said that the outbreak of the pandemic in December 2019, had greatly affected the livelihood and health of citizens.
“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,’’ he said.
The governor, who was represented by the deputy governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, said that the state government’s effort in containing the disease was strategic after the state recorded its first case on March 25, 2020.
According to him, in both waves of the pandemic, 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 has received authorisation by the 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, therefore, encourage you to follow the guidelines for the vaccine roll-out and avail yourselves of the opportunity to be protected from this deadly virus and to protect others,” he said.
He explained that the first phase of the vaccination, was mainly for frontline healthcare workers and strategic leaders, saying more citizens would get vaccinated in the following weeks.
The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, commended Wike’s dogged response and strategic leadership in fighting COVID-19 in the state.
Chike stated that Executive Orders were approved by the Rivers State Executive Council and signed; adding that a lot of resources was put into combating of COVID-19 in the state.
“With a particular test of COVID-19 costing N50,000 for now, Rivers State has collected over 135,000 samples, and the cost was borne by the state Government,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that government functionaries including the Deputy Governor, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, State Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party were vaccinated.
Also vaccinated were the state Commissioner for Health, Chief of Staff to the Governor and the Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, among others. (NAN)