Despite the fact that acceptance of covid-19 vaccines is crucial for achieving sufficient immunization coverage to end the global pandemic, investigation revealed that vaccination attitudes among youths in the country is not encouraging.
The propaganda regarding the ongoing vaccination programme is worrisome, as most youths spoken to, especially those studying in tertiary institutions, did not indicate interest in taking the vaccination based on the surrounding myths about the vaccines.
Nigerians both literate and illiterate were still avoiding to go for the vaccination owing to myths that COVID-19 vaccine is being used by Microsoft Founder, Bill Gates to reduce the world population, among others.
Already, scientists and researchers managed to produce vaccines to protect against COVID-19, yet misinformation about the safety and effects of the vaccines is already threatening its rollout.
Despite these assurances, doubts persist which is further threatening the vaccination exercise, and possibly thwarting Nigeria’s authority target to vaccinate millions of eligible citizens within the next two years.
A Community Medicine Department of Enugu State University Teaching Hospital (ESUT), Dr Obasi Chikezie said allegations that vaccination was linked to changes in DNA, causes convulsion or that it has magnetic components that can hold objects to the body of humans, or that it causes death after two years, traceable to the mark of the beast 666 among others were all misconceptions.
He said “It’s important to clear any confusion relating to the vaccine rollout and build trust among the public ensuring that they have access to information they require.”
Speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP, Mrs Nwosumba Ginika, a principal nursing officer at ESUT, advised Nigerians to go out and take vaccines willingly, saying that there is no harm in it.
She said the response at the University Teaching hospital has been awesome, as many come voluntarily to take their vaccines.
“That is their first and second dose. In a day we have an average of 80 people coming for vaccination, sometimes 100.
“Of course, rumours have been going around but it is not for us the health workers to tell them but all we have been vaccinating we have not seen such. After vaccination, some will tell you that I have fever or the likes but will always advise them to take paracetor mol.
“So my advice to Nigerians, they should go out to take vaccines, at least as I am talking to you I have taken mine and there is no harm so I think they should go and take it willingly.”
Waiting to take his second jab at university, software engineer Martins Onyedikachi said he believes in the power of the vaccine to protect against the virus.
“I have taken the first dose of my Moderna vaccine about five weeks ago so I was here last week for the second dose but it was not available and I am here again to take my dose to make sure I am fully vaccinated.
“I took the first dose because I want to be safe. COVID is not something I should play with particularly because of our health system where it will be difficult for me to afford oxygen when I am down so it is important for me to get vaccinated and be able to avoid unnecessary expenses.
“I have those who experienced COVID and suffered from it, although I don’t have any who died that is related to me but I have heard and read news of so many people that died from COVID-19.
“I believe in the vaccine in what it can be prevent, I have been taking vaccine as a child, measles, yellow fever, and the rest so when covid vaccine was talked about and its efficacy I had to read about it, watch and listen to information about it, it is not just rumours so believe in what I read because of the source.
“When I had my first dose I had side effects. The first effect was the general pain and heaviness I felt on my left hand so after that I had a little feverish condition just for that night and then the next morning.
“My advice to those having fear covid vaccine is safe. I took it and I didn’t have any adverse effects aside from the feverish condition. I only took paracetamol,” he said.
On its part, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has advised Nigerians to disregard propaganda regarding the ongoing vaccination programme against Covid-19, insisting that it remains the most potent means of protection against the virus for now.
UNICEF, which has been instrumental in helping the Nigerian government contain the spread of the virus since it broke out in 2020, noted that globally there has never been a time that vaccine applications do not attract conspiracy theories, most of which cannot be substantiated.
According to Geoffrey Njoku, Communication Specialist for UNICEF, it is discouraging that many Nigerians both those literate and illiterate were still avioding to go for the vaccination owing to false claims that Microsoft Founder, Bill Gates wants to use it to reduce the world population.
Njoku while welcoming participants to a “Two-Day Media Dialogue on Demand Creation for Covid-19 Vaccines” in Enugu state, recently, organised in conjunction with the Child Rights Information Bureau (Crib) under the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, wondered why people would hold onto such beliefs when Bill Gates who is neither an expert in health matters would want to reduce the world population through vaccines.
He noted that globally, conspiracy theories trail most policies of the government, but should not be taken to heart, especially when there are no logical reasons to back up such claims.
“When government began aggressive vaccination against polio in Nigeria some people came up with funny theories that it was a calculated ploy to reduce the population.”
“When people say Bill Gates is trying to use vaccines to plant chips in humans, the logical question that people ought to ask is, is Bill Gates a medical doctor or an expert in health?”