No fewer than 600 intending pilgrims in Ogun have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of requirements for the 2021 Holy pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
Alhaji Dauda Salau, Executive Secretary, Ogun State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board (OGSMPWB), disclosed this at the end of a two-day vaccination exercise in Abeokuta on Monday.
Salau said the vaccination was in compliance with the new health policy of Saudi Arabia and the directive of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
He added that the state government was concerned about the wellbeing and safety of the people, particularly those intending to perform the pilgrimage.
He urged the intending pilgrims to always comply with COVID-19 protocols and make themselves available for the second dose of the vaccine at the appropriate time.
“I am impressed with the large turnout of intending pilgrims who have received the COVID-19 vaccination.
“This is a positive indication and the present administration is determined to ensure that intending pilgrims from Ogun state are vaccinated against COVID-19 for their wellbeing and safety in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.
“Let me add that after receiving the first dose of Astra Zeneca vaccine, you are expected to get another dose after a few weeks,” he said.
Also, the Commissioner, South West Zone of NAHCON, Alhaja Basirat Akintunde, emphasised the importance of the vaccine.
Akintunde said that the exercise was free and safe for intending pilgrims, contrary to rumours in some quarters that the intending pilgrims were made to pay for the vaccine.
Similarly, Dr Surajudeen Olayinka, the state Immunisation Officer, Primary Health Care Board, affirmed the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
Olayinka allayed the fears of the general public on possible side effects, stressing that the vaccine had been subjected to laboratory tests.
“There is no need for worries as Astra Zeneca vaccine has been found to be safe and effective by relevant health authorities,” he said.
In their separate remarks, two intending pilgrims, Mr Idowu Bashir and Mrs Salau Mutajero, expressed satisfaction at the health initiative, saying it would help safeguard them against the virus.