NO fewer than 2,500 intending pilgrims from 16 local government areas of Kwara State have started taking COVID-19 vaccination for the 2021 Hajj to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Kwara Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board commenced the exercise in Ilorin on Friday.
Dr Sambo Sambaki, the Chairman of the board, said the intending pilgrims were expected to observe the COVID-19 measures from home to ensure the safety of all.
He said that the vaccine was being administered by the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency to the intending pilgrims.
Sambaki said the process was being done to ensure that the COVID-19 protocols were observed by all stakeholders.
He presented a vaccination certificate to one of the intending pilgrims and described the exercise as one that would be successful.
Alhaji AbdulGaniyu Ahmed, the Executive Secretary of the board, said the exercise was in compliance with the directive of the Saudi Arabia authority.
“The vaccination of our intending pilgrims was part of the requirements from the Saudi Arabia Authority for intending pilgrims to qualify them to enter the holy land,” he said.
Ahmed said that the vaccination would be in two categories, stating that the 2,500 intending pilgrims would take the second dose after six weeks of the current one.
He said the pilgrims would also take regular immunisation against Yellow fever and other diseases after the COVlD-19 vaccination ended.
Ahmed advised the intending pilgrims from all the 16 local government areas of the state to make themselves available for the vaccination and obtain their certificates to affect their trip.
Hajia Sarat Yoonus, Immunisation Officer from the state primary healthcare development agency, said the vaccination was a strategic method to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
She said that intending pilgrim should avail themselves of the opportunity to get vaccinated or forfeit their planned trip as the vaccine was a requisite for the spiritual journey.
Yoonus reassured the intending pilgrims that the vaccination was safe and did not have any negative effects on the body as being speculated in some quarters.
Mrs Mopelola Kadir, one of the intending pilgrims who took the vaccination, commended the government for its effort to kick COVID-19 out of the state.
Hajia Asiata Amope also praised the foresight of the state government and urged residents to present themselves for the vaccination.