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Buhari working on using “influencers” as “publicity vehicles” to demonstrate COVID vaccine safety – Fayemi

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Ekiti governor Kayode Fayemi says President Muhammadu Buhari is mulling the idea of using influential persons in the society to drive acceptance for COVID-19 vaccines, a batch of which is billed for delivery to Nigeria by January ending.

Faisal Shuaib, head of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, at the PTF briefing on COVID-19 on Thursday had said the President , Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and other prominent Nigerians had expressed readiness to receive the vaccine on live television.

Mr. Fayemi, who met Mr. Buhari privately on Friday in Aso Villa commended the PTF on COVID-19 for resolving to use the president and the vice president as the “publicity vehicles for reassuring those who might have doubts about the vaccines.”

“But the good thing is that Mr. President has agreed with me that he would convey to the PTF the necessity of using other influencers.

“Maybe the Chief Imams, the Bishops, top musicians and our sports personalities.

“The more of such people are seen taking the vaccines, the more the likelihood of resistance break down in our various localities,” Mr. Fayemi said.

At least 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive in the country by the end of January 2021, according to PTF but authorities face challenges of vaccine hesitancy from a polity with rife scepticism and conspiracies about COVID-19.

Mr. Fayemi assured that state governors will also take the vaccine jabs on live television to reassure citizens.

“We too will like to demonstrate to our citizens that we believe that vaccines will work,” Mr. Fayemi said. “The Governors’ Forum managed the polio vaccines administration in the country and we have garnered a lot of experience.”

“We have worked with the Primary Healthcare Development Agency and the Federal Ministry of Health.

“We will be happy to work with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Presidential Task Force (PTF) and the Primary Healthcare Development Agency on this as well,” he added.

Nigeria intends to get 42 million COVID-19 vaccines to cover one-fifth of its population through the global COVAX scheme, the PTF announced.

The initial vaccines would come as part of Nigeria’s plan to inoculate 40 percent of the population in 2021 and another 30 percent in 2022.

The governor said he also discussed the issue of vaccine management with the president, stressing the urgent need for Nigeria to ramp up the manufacturing of vaccines locally.

He also urged the federal authorities to accelerate its partnership with May & Baker to produce the COVID-19 vaccines locally to reduce cost and ensure quick delivery.

“There is nothing as good as having the ability to manufacture our own vaccines locally.

“It is important for the federal government to really accelerate so that we can produce the vaccines here in Nigeria and not be dependent on what is coming from other parts,“ Mr. Fayemi said.

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