As Nigeria prepares to receive COVID-19 vaccines, the federal government has put out an advisory to better educate citizens on the relevance of the exercise. The advisory which is in form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), is an initiative of the federal ministry of information and culture, supervised by Alhaji Lai Mohammed. The government has also assured Nigerians that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, will be in charge of the evaluation and supervision of the vaccines to ensure they are not harmful to citizens. The government also said NAFDAC will continually monitor side effects in people who have received COVID-19 vaccines and identify and evaluate new information that arises on the benefits and safety of COVID-19 vaccines promptly. Naijamic has reproduced some parts of the FAQs below:

1. Why should I get vaccinated for COVID-19?It is strongly recommended that you get vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccine will protect you from getting infected, sick, or dying. By getting vaccinated, you also protect your loved ones and your community.

2. How do I get vaccinated against COVID-19?Nigeria plans to introduce the COVID-19 vaccine in the 1st quarter of 2021 to halt the ongoing spread of the virus and to save lives. Once the vaccine is available, there will be public announcements on those to be vaccinated through the mass media and traditional channels in the communities on when and where to get the vaccine.

3. Does COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

No! COVID – 19 vaccine does not alter your DNA. It triggers an immune response that will protect your body against the virus if encountered. Once you and your community members are protected, the chances of the spread of the disease are reduced.

4. If I have had COVID-19 and have recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?

Yes. The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) recommends that you get vaccinated even if you have already had COVID-19 because you can be infected more than once. While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from COVID-19, we do not know how long this protection will last. Hence, it is recommended that you get vaccinated because you can be re-infected.

5. Can pregnant and lactating mothers receive the vaccine?No! Studies are yet to be conducted to ascertain the safety of the vaccine on pregnant and lactating mothers.

6. Can the vaccine infect me with COVID-19?

No! the vaccine cannot infect you with COVID-19. It is meant to protect you from COVID -19 infection. Once your vaccination doses are complete, you become protected.

7. Does the COVID-19 vaccine contain a microchip?

No! COVID-19 – 19 vaccine does not contain any harmful substance or micro-chip. All vaccines including COVID-19 vaccines are manufactured under strict compliance with WHO guidelines. Also, before the vaccine is administered in Nigeria, NAFDAC will certify it safe for human use.

8. Is it safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I have an underlying medical condition?

Yes. COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for people with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. The vaccine does not cause the disease but helps the body to develop immunity against the disease.

9. Is it better to get natural immunity to COVID-19 rather than immunity from a vaccine?No. There is no guarantee that if you get COVID-19, you will get immunity. In fact, you may get serious illness and die or have debilitating symptoms that may persist for months. Even if you survive the disease, you may only develop short-term antibody protection after recovery from COVID-19, we do not know how long this protection lasts. Therefore, vaccination is the best protection, and it is safe.

10. Will the shot hurt or make me sick?

Mild side effects may occur as in any other vaccinations. However, they are signs that the vaccine is working to build your immunity. This does not mean you have COVID-19. If they do not go away in a few days, please see your doctor.

11. How do I know if the COVID-19 vaccine is safe?

Before a vaccine is certified for use, it must receive approval from WHO. Here in Nigeria, in addition to WHO approval, all vaccines including the COVID-19 vaccine are certified safe for use by NAFDAC. Even when in use, NAFDAC continues to monitor the vaccine to ensure it causes no harm.

12. Do I still need to wear a facemask after vaccination?

Yes, you are advised to continue to practice the preventive measures – wear your face masks, frequently wash your hands with soap and running water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser, observe physical distancing and avoid large gatherings and unnecessary travels to stop community transmission of COVID-19. This is because getting the vaccine does not stop you from getting exposed to someone who has been infected, but the vaccination and development of immunity will stop the infection from progressing to disease – hence you still need to practice the preventive measures Meanwhile, the federal government has said there will be repercussions for Very Important Personalities (VIPs) and government officials who flout travel protocols as Nigeria battles the second wave of Corona virus. The warning was issued by the national coordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, who declared that the authorities will clamp down on officials for failing to obey travel protocols including undergoing compulsory COVID-19 tests after returning to the country.

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