Despite the plan for the president and vice-president to take the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccines in the public, a cross-section of Nigerians have insisted that they will not participate in the procedure.
The Nigerian Government has announced that President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo will receive shots of AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccines on Saturday to prove the vaccine safety to the public.
Nigeria, on Tuesday, received the first batch of about 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine under the COVAX initiative and the planned launch of the national vaccination campaign.
The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, disclosed this at the second edition of the State House briefing in Abuja on Thursday, which is motivated by Nigeria’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the country’s national vaccination strategy.
Shuaib said, “Launch of national vaccination campaign will take place at the National Hospital, Abuja, Friday, March 5, 2021, with frontline health workers.
“On Saturday, the plan is to vaccinate Mr President, Mr Vice-President, and strategic leaders, to demonstrate vaccine safety to the public.
“Again, we are hopeful that when Nigerians see leaders like Mr President and Mr Vice-President take the vaccines; it will increase their confidence around the safety of the vaccines.
“As you are well aware that even before the vaccines arrived in Nigeria, there is a lot of hesitancy. It is a global phenomenon. Vaccine hesitancy is similar no matter where you are, you have to provide the right information and to those people who have questions, we cannot dismiss their cynicism.’’
However, a cross-section of Nigerians, some of whom are Christians whose pastors have linked the vaccine to the Antichrist in the past, vowed not to take the vaccine.
For instance, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of LoveWorld Incorporated (also known as Christ Embassy), had delivered a sermon that had thousands of views on YouTube in which he claimed that the introduction of 5G technology was responsible for the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. He also alleged that the administration of a COVID-19 vaccine would be used to enthrone a “new world order” led by the Antichrist.
The 5G is a fifth-generation wireless communications technology supporting cellular data networks, which follows the 4G technology currently in use in many countries, including Nigeria.
Some of the respondents told SaharaReporters on Friday that their decision had to do with their religious beliefs, some others said the Nigerian government could not be trusted with precious lives.
Esther Tijani, a member of the Christ Embassy said, “I can’t take the vaccine. I have a mind of my own, so it is not because Pastor Chris Oyakhilome was against it. I have the right to choose what I will allow being done to my body. I hold on to the message in Psalms 91:5-6 that, ‘Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.’ That’s why I cannot take the COVID-19 vaccine.”
“I no dey take o. I cannot take the vaccine,” Joy Okezie, another member of the Christ Embassy said. “Not taking it is about my Christian belief and also about my individuality. This is because the vaccines I’ve had to take are the ones I was given when I was a baby. Also, I’m a very objective person. I like to get full details of whatever I’m getting involved in. I also believe in having good reasons for all my actions.
"Also, let’s say we choose to eliminate the first two answers above, I can go for it when all doubts are cleared because there are many irregularities associated with the vaccine. Also, I attend Christ Embassy. But, my view about the vaccine is really rooted in the fact that there’s a lot of politics being played with it. If we eliminate my religious biases, I would wait to get the answers to every question on my mind before I could decide on whether or not to go for it.”
Also, a member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Ademola Adebayo, said, “I cannot take COVID-19 vaccine. And, not taking it has nothing to do with my Christian belief. But, maybe if the Federal Ministry of Health provides answers to these questions like, do the vaccines stop the infection? Do the vaccines prevent the infection from transmission? Does it have any side effects? And the awareness must be circulated to every nook and cranny of the country.”
Bukola Davies, who did not disclose the identity of her church, said, “I don’t need the vaccine. I am not sure it has any connection with the Antichrist as some say. But, I cannot take it. Thank you.”
Joy Celestine questioned the sincerity of the government officials in administering the drugs, saying, “I can’t take the vaccine. How am I sure the vaccine they (Nigerian leaders) took is the same type they are giving me? What if it has a side effect that will cost me millions of naira to treat? They can afford to do that with their money but I can't. My submission on not taking the vaccine is not about a Christian belief, rather it is a personal decision taken based on my observations.”
Olaide Williams bluntly replied, “I’m not interested in the vaccine as of now.”
In the same vein, Dayo Emmanuel responded, “I’m not interested in the vaccine. I don’t need it.”
“My take is that those that are most affected and invented the vaccine are people in cold regions but Africa is not cold. Africa is hot, so the drug obtainable can’t be the same. And also our immune systems are different,” said Obinna Okorie.
Lilian Akwunwa said, “No, I can’t take the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s not about my Christian belief. I don’t trust the vaccine, and I don’t trust the government and the people behind it.”
Blessing Okome also said, “I can’t take it. I don’t think I can take the vaccine, let’s see after 100 people have taken it first.”
“I don’t need the vaccine,” Damilare Omodara said. “It’s about my faith in the merit of the work of the Lord Jesus.”