Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 March 2021:
President Dr Julius Maada Bio has today shown leadership by taking the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the launching of the country’s Covid-19 vaccination programme held in State House, Freetown.
The President led a throng of other high-profile politicians, including Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh and senior opposition politicians to take the vaccine.
This will no doubt give immense confidence to a vast section of the population who are sceptical about taking the vaccine. Before taking the vaccine, the President said that he is taking the vaccine as a sign of leadership.
“That is to tell you that we should all try to be vaccinated as and when the vaccines are available for everybody. That is what leadership is about. We will give confidence to the rest of the population to receive their vaccines as and when it is available, so that we can get rid of COVID and pay attention to development, which should really be our preoccupation,” he said.
The National COVID-19 Emergency Response Centre, NaCOVERC, said that the combined total of 296,000 SinoPharm and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines being offered by the Government of Sierra Leone have been tested and proven to be safe and effective, and that millions of people around the world are taking them.
Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr Austin Demby, said that today is a very special day for Sierra Leone, adding that with a show of political will, they now have the tools in their arsenal 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”.
“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 have been cleared for use in Sierra Leone through an Emergency Use Authorization issued by the country’s Pharmacy Board.
Dr Demby clarified that even though they have 296,000 doses of vaccines, they will only be able to vaccinate just under 150,000 individuals, each having two doses – 21-28 days apart.
“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.
Yeah. President Bio makes me feel Good. Leading by example is a very Good political tool for any President or government. The fact that he took the extra mile in verifying the safety of the China vaccine, makes me confident of his leadership on this occasion. Leading by being the first to take the jab is highly appreciated and welcome. But, will that confidence be short lived?
Ladies and Gentlemen, thumbs up for the President of the republic of Sierra Leone, His excellency Dr, Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio. No cause to complain this time around. When you rule within the values and standards of the SLPP party, the entire country becomes happy and rally behind you. One country, one love. God bless President Bio and the SLPP party. I hope he continues showing leadership to the people of Sierra Leone.
This is a true leadership quality shown by my president, your president, our president Dr. Brigadier (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio. For a man like this to face the public and demonstrate such gallantry, brave and courageous leadership quality for the entire country and the world at large to know that such a leader is concerned about the good health of his people and very serious about the fight against the COVID-19 menace that is ravaging the world. He did not think about the negative impact this vaccine may cause; neither did he think about suspending its use. He did not ask that other citizens (especially COVID-19 special cases) should be vaccinated first, observe how the vaccine can react before he himself can take the vaccine. He just believe in protecting the lives of his people at all times – be it in odd times and in normal times. Such a leader deserves to rule. He has the tendency to feel the same pain of his people and just believe he himself is human.
Sir, may God continue to guide and protect you. It is good for other opposition leaders, sympathizers and the rest of Sierra Leonean population to give support to this laudable venture in a bid to fight this menace out of our country. When you read the stories about COVID-19 disaster around the world, Sierra Leoneans in and outside Sierra Leone will agree with me that this is not about politics. We really need to thank God first and thank the president that God sent for us. Since COVID-19 was declared a global health problem till date, under his leadership only few deaths have been reported so far.
We need to applaud our president Dr. Julius Maada Bio and his government for the good work done in properly managing this crisis. We may have been fortunate to hear or see the disaster we went through during the Ebola crisis. Guinea had the first case, but suffer less than Sierra Leone during that period. I am not trying to draw your attention to the past for any gain, but for us all to think intuitively about the issue and judge for ourselves. Let us all join forces together to fight this COVID-19 menace.
I can only hope there will be no complications. Or did they got a shot of saline solution?
This is great news. Ii is good to see President Bio and his top government officials lead by example. This is what we demand of our president, to lead in all good things that we want to happen in our country. Nothing less. If he does that, he will have the full support of every Sierra Leonean. The effectiveness of going on national television, and showing the general public that it is safe to be vaccinated, is not only reassuring, but it gives the ordinary man and woman of Sierra Leone, the reassurance to use Bio and his team as the guinea-pigs. Make no mistake there is a lot of resistance of the vaccine up take around the world . Especially in the USA, and Europe. What Bio did was commendable.
More like the ones to watch over the next couple of weeks to see if Mr President and those that have taken the jab will develop any adverse reactions to vaccine, as vaccine sceptics will have us believe. I pray not. Yes there is plenty of legitimate scepticism, and rightly so. When I had my jab a week or so ago, the advice given to me was, common side effects include having a painful heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around one to two days after taking the vaccine, including feeling tired, headache, general aches, or mild flu like symptoms. It clearly states these symptoms normally last less than a week. I am not a medical expert, but I have experience of all the above.
It is safe to say, that it has not slowed me down in doing my long runs for my Marathon race later this year. That is not to say I dismiss people’s concerns about the vaccine. We can only encourage people with the scientists and medical experts, like the world Health Organisation recommendation for each vaccine. Since they all defer in effectiveness, but the outcome is the same. This pandemic is a once in a generation event. When it started, the world was in the dark about its impacts. Even a recent book on the advice president Trump received, he was told the Covid19 pandemic will not out-last the summer of 2020. To be honest every government around the world was blindsided. At least now we can all sit back and watch our guinea-pigs in the form of Bio and his government ministers. Great job.