The Kogi State Government has commenced the administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the state with priority giving to health workers and frontline essential non-health workers.The government on Monday night took delivery of about 16, 900 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. Kogi State Commissioner for Health, Dr Saka Haruna, flagged off the COVID-19 vaccination exercise in Lokoja, in collaboration with the Kogi State Primary Health Care Development Agency (KSPHCDA). The flag off was followed by the administration of the vaccines on Dr. Abubakar Yakubu, KSPHCDA Executive Director, who volunteered himself as the first person to take the vaccine, followed by the CMD Kogi Hospital Management Board, Dr Usman Zakari and some medical officers. The Kogi CAN Chairman, Bishop John Ibenu; Kogi JNI Chairman, Amb. Usman Bello; Kogi NMA Chairman, Dr Omakoji Oyiguh; and some journalists, also received doses of the vaccines. The commissioner called on the people of the state to volunteer themselves to take the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying nobody would be deprived or forced to receive it. “I want to clarify that nobody is exempted or will be deprived from this exercise, also nobody will be subjected to force vaccination exercise in Kogi State,” Audu said. He appreciated Governor Yahaya Bello, for taking proactive measures and for making sure that the vaccines were finally deployed to Kogi to cater for the health needs of the citizens. The commissioner disclosed that the ministry had taken delivery of 16, 900 out of the total 33, 000 doses of the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine to be deployed to Kogi State. He noted that the remaining balance of 16, 100 doses of the vaccines would be deployed to Kogi in the next two weeks. He assured that the vaccine was safe, but reiterated that nobody would be forced to take it or deprived of taking it. Also speaking, Dr Abubakar Yakubu, the Executive Director, KSPHCDA, said the vaccine had passed through series of laboratory tests by WHO, NAFDAC, and other relevant agencies, saying “the vaccine is virile and safe for the people of the state”. He urged Kogi citizens to dismiss the claims that the vaccine was not safe, stressing that the state Governor would never approve any drug that would pose danger to the health of his people. In his remarks, the State Chairman of Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr John Ibenu, commended Kogi Government for its pragmatic approach in managing the COVID-19 pandemic effectively from the onset. He assured Kogi residents that CAN would be the number one body to stand against anything that could harm anyone. He stressed that it was against the international standards and health practices to introduce anything that would be harmful to humanity, saying, “CAN will never be part of anything that will be harmful to humanity. “The COVID-19 vaccine is safe; there is no trick in it; please let us take it to boost our health immunity against the virus,” Ibenu said. On his part, the Kogi Chairman of Jamaatu Nasiru Islam (JNI), Amb. Usman Bello appealed to Kogi people not to allow themselves to be deceived against using the vaccine. He assured that his organisation would intensity its effort in sensitizing Kogi residents to come out for vaccination against the covid-19 pandemic. On his part, the Kogi Chairman of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Omakoji Oyinguh, urged the medical doctors to make themselves available for the vaccination. He assured of NMA support for the State Government, adding that as front-line workers, the wellness of its members and other health workers remained a priority to the government. The State’s Chairman of People Living With Disability (PLWD), Mr Ibrahim Arome, thanked the state government for making the vaccine available for people who desired to be vaccinated. Arome assured that his association would extend the vaccination campaign to all the communities where disabled people live to fully participate in the vaccination exercise. Meanwhile, the commissioner immediately after the flag-off, inaugurated a Health Research Team comprised of selected Scientists and other health personnel.