Dr. Cyprian Ngong, of the National Hospital, Abuja, is the first person to receive a jab of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, as Nigeria commenced its COVID-19 vaccination on Friday.
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, flagged off the exercise on behalf of the President Muhammadu Buhari.
At the exercise on Friday, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, described the moment as a “watershed.”
Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, also said it was crucial “to first cater for those who cater for us.”
Speaking after his vaccination, Ngong, who has been treating coronavirus patients at the National Hospital Isolation Centre in Abuja, since the beginning of the fight last year, said he wished his father took the vaccine as he died of the lethal virus.
He said: “We’ve been at the forefront here at the Isolation Centre under the able leadership of the National Hospital. They’ve provided everything we need for this fight. We’ve lost some, we’ve got some and we are happy we are getting the vaccines now in Nigeria. That is about the best news we’ve heard since. I only wished my dad had had this vaccine may be months ago or so. We lost him but we thank God and the fight is still on and we will win.”
The second medical doctor who was administered the vaccine was said to have attended to 10,549 patients since the pandemic.
The historic moment came exactly a year and six days after Nigeria confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus on February 27.
Since then, 158,000 Nigerians have contracted the virus out of which 1,951 have died.
On Tuesday, the long-awaited vaccines arrived in the country courtesy of the COVAX facility which donated 3.9 million doses to Nigeria.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) gave the final approval for use of the vaccine in Nigeria hours before the launch.
The Federal Government, on Monday, asked Nigerians to register for COVID-19 vaccination via the portal of the NPHCDA.
T.E.A.C.H, a strategy for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines was also launched to fast-track the vaccination process.
According to the NPHCDA, frontline health workers, COVID-19 rapid response teams, laboratory network, petrol station workers and strategic leaders will be among the first to be vaccinated.
Adults aged 50 years and above and those with underlying health conditions will also be vaccinated in its phase two rollout.
President Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo will, on Saturday, receive shots of the vaccines to dissipate vaccine hesitancy among Nigerians.