Sierra Leone president Julius Maada Bio has taken the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at State House, where Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh and opposition politicians also took the jab.
The National COVID-19 Emergency Response Centre, NaCOVERC, said the combined total of 296,000 SinoPharm and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines being offered by the Government of Sierra Leone undergone many tests and proven to be safe and effective because millions of people around the world had taken them.
Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr Austin Demby, said the day was a very special day for Sierra Leone, adding that with the show of political will, they now had the tools to get ahead of the COVID-19 virus instead of reacting to it.
“When I asked the President if he would publicly take the vaccine, his response was ‘absolutely’.
He also said, ‘as a leader, I would not ask people to take a vaccine that I am not willing to take myself’. His Excellency, thank you Sir for your leadership.
“We have shown resilience at every step of the way and today, with the new safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccines, we take a bold new step in our march to get rid of COVID-19 from our country,” he said.
He added that in addition to other globally renowned regulatory agencies, both vaccines are cleared for use in Sierra Leone through an Emergency Use Authorization issued by the country’s Pharmacy Board.
“We expect more vaccines to come soon. As a result, for this first round of vaccinations, we will prioritize: Healthcare Workers, Political Leaders, Social Workers, Teachers and lecturers, Military, Police, Customs and Immigrations workers including Sea Ports and Airports, Prison Officers, Fire Force Officers, People over 70,” he said.