By Godfrey AKON
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says public hesitancy and conspiracy theories against Covid-19 vaccines are presenting serious challenges to Nigeria’s efforts towards stemming the spread of the virus through mass vaccination.
UNICEF’s Health Specialist and Officer in Charge of its Enugu Field Office, Dr Olufemi Adeyemi, disclosed this at a Two-day Media Dialogue on “Demand Creation for COVID-19 Vaccines” organised by UNICEF in collaboration with the Child Rights Information Bureau, CRIB, of the Federal Ministry of Information, in Enugu.
Adeyemi said although considerable progress has been made by Nigeria and its development partners to contain the spread of COVID-19 through vaccination, they were unreciprocated because of public hesitancy, unwillingness and conspiracies against COVID-19 vaccines.
While calling on the public not to allow themselves to be misinformed about COVID-19 and the vaccines, he stressed that the Covid-19vaccines were safe and the most effective way to manage the spread of the virus.
Also speaking, Enugu State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Emmanuel Obi, represented by Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Ifeanyi Agujiobi, said Enugu almost had 100 per cent administration of its COVID-19 vaccines.
Obi disclosed that the state has vaccinated close to 20460 for the first dose, adding that the first batch of over 65,000 doses of Astrazeneca vaccines received by the state had 100 per cent implementation.
The commissioner, who disclosed that over 20,000 doses of the 60000 moderna vaccines received by the state have been administered, said Enugu state is well positioned to give the necessary support regarding fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
He however noted that despite achievements recorded by the state, a lot still remains to be done as much sensitization is required to convince many citizens to take the Covid-19 vaccines.
Earlier, the UNICEF Communication Specialist in Nigeria, Dr. Geoffrey Njoku, said if a greater percentage of the country gets vaccinated, Nigeria would achieve herd immunity and schools will remain open.
Njoku noted that over 1.8 trillion hours had been lost globally as a result of the ravaging pandemic, with many countries still reopening schools and public places.
According to him, the objective of the media dialogue was to generate demand for the uptake of Covid-19 vaccines.
While debunking some of the controversies associated with the vaccine, a Medical Doctor with the Community Medicine Department, of Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, ESUT, Obasi Chikezie, said Nigeria is in its third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chikezie disclosed that the country has recorded about 200,000 confirmed cases and more than 2,000 deaths, making it imperative for the Federal Government to sustain investment in COVID-19.
According to him, complacency, lack of confidence, and convenience were some of the reasons many persons remained hesitant to get vaccinated, adding that once you are vaccinated against any disease, it is the most cost-effective way of managing the disease and solves challenges that come with lack of access to health from the individual and public health perspective.
“The treatment of COVID-19 is very expensive, and 95 face masks costs 2,500 which is more expensive than the vaccine and in isolation centres we use more than 200 pieces of these masks.“You can imagine how expensive this is. If you refuse to take the vaccine, it is just like saying that since a seatbelt does not protect you from an accident let me not use it,” he said.