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By Ahmed Rahma

After weeks of speculations and doubts among Nigerians on whether the country will secure the COVID-19 vaccine, on March 2, 2021, the federal government finally took delivery of the first batch of about four million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from COVAX.

The 3.94 million doses are part of the 16 million doses being expected from COVAX by the end of this year.

The federal government, through the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, on March 5, 2021, flagged-off a national COVID-19 vaccination programme at the National Hospital, Abuja after the vaccine was tested and certified to be effective and safe for use in the country by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

A medical doctor, Cyprian Ngong, of the National Hospital Abuja, who has been treating COVID-19 patients at the hospital’s isolation centre since the beginning of the fight last year, was the first Nigerian to receive the vaccine.

Similarly, all state governors, asides Kogi State governor, have launched vaccination programmes in their states.

Due to the experiences from other climes on the effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine, there have been concerns that Nigerians should be cautious in administering the vaccine.

But the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), last Monday, said it has not received any official report of serious adverse effects from any of those that have been vaccinated.

The agency explained that mild side effects, such as pains and swelling at the point of injection are expected, as normal with any vaccination, adding that the agency is working closely with NAFDAC to monitor any unusual adverse reactions to the vaccine.

As the mixed feelings continue, some Nigerians already vaccinated have shared their AstraZeneca vaccine experience.

The Chief Nursing Officer at the National Hospital, Mrs Faith Eragbai, who was the second Nigerian to be vaccinated, said;

I did not feel anything after taking the vaccine, no slight headache, no fever or anything. It is already three weeks and I have not had any adverse reaction. I am very strong. I was infected with the Coronavirus around June/July 2020. I was on admission for 19 days and 16 days on oxygen. My whole life almost collapsed, but I thank God for seeing me through.

Today, I am alive to testify about His goodness. For Nigerians who are still sceptical about whether or not to take the vaccine, I have opened the way for them. I have sacrificed because I know the effect of it. I know what I went through, even after I was discharged. It was as if the COVID-19 virus was still there because of the complications.

I was experiencing breathlessness up to January this year before God intervened and I can now breathe well, with other things that I was using: Zinc, vitamin C and all the drugs they prescribed.

I took the vaccine because there is no guarantee that after surviving the virus, you won’t contract it again. I don’t want the infection again, and that is why I took the vaccine. And even if I contract the virus again, it won’t be severe or life-threatening. This is why we are advising Nigerians still doubting whether the Coronavirus is real or whether the vaccine is killing; that the vaccine doesn’t kill.

Rather, it boosts the immune system to resist and lessen the complications from infections. When you take the vaccine, you will be confident that no matter what, death from the virus is out of it, especially when it has entered the stage of difficulty in breathing.

However, you can still contract the virus after taking the vaccine, if you don’t take the precaution of washing your hands, wearing a facemask and observing physical distancing, among others.

There is no problem with the vaccine, I, Faith Iragba, is telling Nigerians to take the vaccine. They should ignore the conspiracy theories, and that people are dying after taking the vaccine. They are all lies. It is okay to take the vaccine.

Dr Adebayo Akintayo, a medical doctor based in Lagos

The vaccine is very safe and probably more effective than we ever thought. I got my jab on March 15, 2021, and I have been perfectly okay since then. I was able to do all my activities on that day and even up till now without any complaint or side effect.

We need to be more deliberate and serious in our approach to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to combine COVID-19 vaccination with other interventions in order to significantly protect ourselves. There is no point shooting down the jabs, whether it is AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Modena with misinformation/disinformation.

Available evidence has shown that vaccination protects and reduces the severity of the infectious disease. I would advise all eligible persons, age 18 and above, to take the COVID-19 vaccine. The Nigerian authorities, through various regulatory bodies, are really monitoring patients’ response to all the jabs. Health workers are encouraged to fill the yellow cards for any reported adverse reactions from our patients. Therefore, anyone experiencing a side effect should report to the vaccination centre for proper documentation and possible scientific evaluation.

Ibrahim Quadri, Journalist, Lagos

It was a feeling of calculated risk that welled up in me, I must confess. On Friday, March 12, 2021, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu got his jab together with some state officials that were present and willing to receive their shots.

So, the initial doubt in me, especially going by the reports of suspension of the jab in European countries, was completely erased- having read the personal experiences of the governor and my colleagues.

But when I was to receive mine yesterday, I began to wonder what would be the likely side effects on my system, especially as I was fasting. Eventually, I summoned up courage. After all, no medical expert had prescribed eating before taking the jab.

While taking the prescribed rest of 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine, I noticed the flowing of the jab all around my system. After leaving the spot, it was a case of weakness and a slight headache and later bitter taste in my mouth.

A few minutes after waking up, I was sweating profusely, but I later felt very sound. This feeling of ease did not last, as I completely lost my physical strength, though I managed to get home. I showered, prayed and broke the fast at the appropriate time. I discovered that I needed to take much more water to suppress the dehydration.

Although I had a slight delay before sleeping, it was a sound sleep and I woke up feeling stronger. In all, my experience is a pleasing one because medical personnel already predicted the reactions I got. I, therefore, advise those who have not received to feel free and go for theirs. It’s for the good of all.

Omolara Omosanya, Journalist

I only experienced a sort of heaviness and tenderness in the arm where I got the jab but nothing else otherwise. However, my husband, who is a medical doctor, had malaria-like symptoms, though he was able to go to work.

Akinbowale Azeez Olawale, a cleaner at one of the isolation centres

I received the vaccine on March 12, 2021. I felt very weak the following day, after receiving my jab. This was aside a slight headache that I had till 7pm on that day. I did not take any drug to suppress the reaction, but I got better naturally.

Eric Togbe, a health worker at the National Hospital

I took the vaccine and there was no adverse effect. I decided to take the vaccine because I work in the hospital community and I come in contact with many people, including patients. It is more than a week now that I took the vaccine and I am very okay. I urge all Nigerians to take the vaccine.

Toyin Adebayo, a journalist with Daily Independent Newspapers, Abuja Office

A few hours after taking the vaccine, I felt dizzy, and after that, I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to sleep. On the contrary, I slept like a baby without pains, no ache, nothing. Personally, I think the issue of reaction depends on the individual’s body makeup because some people took it and said they had pains and couldn’t sleep, aside from having a headache. NAFDAC advised that when you are reacting to the jab, just like any other vaccine, take paracetamol. I took the vaccine because I believed it is good for me.

Gbenga Omokhunu works with The Nation Newspapers, Abuja

The confidence to take the jab came from the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari and other notable Nigerians have taken the vaccine. Some people who are not so popular have also taken it and from findings, there were no reactions, despite the negative news flying around.

There was no serious reaction, except for my intake of more water than before in the first two days. For me, the vaccine is safe and efficacious for everyone. I hereby encourage Nigerians to take the vaccine with faith; all is well.

Source: The Guardian

Ahmed Rahma is a journalist with great interest in arts and craft. She is also a foodie who loves new ideas. She loves to travel and would love to visit other African countries someday. She is a sucker for historical movies and afrobeat.

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