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Intending hajj pilgrims get COVID-19 vaccine in Lagos

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The Chairman, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, his Commissioners, management and staff of the Commission were vaccinated with the Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine ahead 2021 Hajj exercise

The Lagos State government has vaccinated about 1,700 intending pilgrims embarking on 2021 holy pilgrimage to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

The two-day vaccination, which took place on Saturday and Sunday at the Adeyemi-Bero Auditorium, Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, was conducted by officials of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Health.

Speaking during the exercise, the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Olanrewaju Elegushi, emphasised that since the COVID-19 vaccine is one of the requirements for gaining entry into Saudi Arabia, it became compulsory and expedient for every intending pilgrim, Ulamah (clerics), staff, among others, to get vaccinated.

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He disclosed that 1,518 intending pilgrims, 105 Ulamah (clerics), 25 hajj guides and 52 members of staff of the Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board were vaccinated during the exercise.

While affirming that not all the state’s intending pilgrims were present for the weekend’s vaccination, Elegushi urged those that fall into this category to ensure that they get themselves vaccinated in any of the accredited centres across the state without further delay.

The commissioner urged them to immediately take the vaccine to meet up with the average of 12-weeks interval required for every intending pilgrim to take the two doses of the vaccine before departing for the hajj exercise.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Mrs Elizabeth Adebunmi Adekanye, who was at the venue to monitor the exercise and ensure strict compliance with the COVID-19 protocols, said the two-day exercise was commendable.

She also advised those that had got the vaccine outside the board’s arrangements to endeavor to bring their certificates to the board for necessary documentation.

On his part, the Executive Secretary, Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mr Rahman Ishola, expressed delight at the impressive turnout of the intending pilgrims for the vaccination despite the short notice.

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Reacting to allegations from some quarters that the vaccination fee was included in the hajj fare, the Executive Secretary debunked the claim as fake, unfounded and blatant falsehood.

Rahman pointed out that the N1.3 million hajj fare had been fixed ever before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the whole world in 2020. He stressed that the state government did not include any vaccination fee in the fare for Hajj 2021 exercise, which still stands at N1.3 million.

While confirming that the vaccination was given free of charge to every intending pilgrim that came for the exercise, Ishola stressed further that during the 2019 Hajj exercise, the state government refunded N100,000 to each of the pilgrims out of the N1.4 million initially charged.

He said the refund was done to acknowledge the fact that the state government is not in the business to cheat or make unwarranted profit from any of its citizens but to serve them diligently and selflessly.

He, therefore, appealed to merchants of fake news to desist from disparaging the enviable image the state had built over the years on hajj operations.

He also commended the officials of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency for a job well done as well as the intending pilgrims for conducting themselves in a peaceful and orderly manner throughout the exercise.

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