Nigeria has received the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines from Serum Institute of India (SII) under the COVAX scheme of the GAVI, Tuesday.

Following the delivery of the 3.92 million doses of the vaccines, Nigerians have been called upon to avail themselves for vaccination against the COVID-19 virus that has ravaged humanity recently the world over.

The Chairman, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha made the call when he received the vaccines at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Boss said the deployment and administration of the vaccines across the country would be in four phases after certification by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), beginning with the frontline health workers who are at the highest risk of infection.

“We will begin the process of deploying these vaccines for vaccination after the test by NAFDAC, and it is going to be in four phases. The objective is that by the time we get through the fourth phase, 70% of our population would have been vaccinated and that will take us near herd immunity. That way, we can say we would have succeeded sufficiently in taming the virus and begin to return to what will be our known normal.”

While debunking conspiracies to discredit the efficacy of the vaccines, the PTF Chairman urged Nigerians to have confidence in the government as it is committed to uplifting the lives of people.

“These vaccines are safe, effective and efficacious. It will do you no harm. Nobody is intending to kill anybody. This is for the good and wellbeing of Nigerians,” he said.

Also, the Executive Director/CEO, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib has expressed delight following the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

He said, “I am elated. I am really excited. It is great that all of the efforts in making sure that these vaccines have arrived is finally paying-up”.

Dr. Faisal reiterated the commitment of NPHCDA to get the vaccine across to all eligible Nigerians irrespective of geographical location.

Speaking on the delivery of the vaccine, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Abhay Thakur said the Nigeria-India tie is age-old based on mutual trust and friendship, adding that India in a short while will donate 100,000 doses of Covishield vaccines to Nigeria.

“Nigeria is among the few countries in Africa to receive the vaccine. In addition, India will be gifting 100,000 doses of Covishield vaccines to Nigeria shortly and 200,000 doses to UN peacekeepers and that includes many African military personnel,” Thakur said.

Also, the WHO, UNICEF, GAVI, development partners and donors to Nigeria, congratulated the country on the receipts of the vaccines and called for optimal utilization of the vaccines as planned.