The National Primary Health Care Development Agency(NPHCDA), has warned Nigerians to be mindful of the COVID-19 vaccine misinformation by some healthcare workers.
The Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, gave the warning in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Saturday in Abuja.
Shuaib said noted that not all healthcare workers are a specialist in vaccinology or in public health, adding that there were different categories of healthcare workers with different specialties.
According to him, vaccine hesitancy is a global phenomenon, and it caught across different strata of society, including, among health workers, some of who do not and not have all of the information to take rationalise decisions.
“In some instances, health workers also propagate information that may not be correct. This is something that we have seen globally, right over the last 20 to 30 years.
“ It is important for us as Nigerians to listen to those scientists, public health workers whose expertise is around public health, and vaccinology so that you get the correct information about vaccines.
“Again, we do not dismiss, we do not assume that anybody who has questions about vaccines or is vaccine hesitant, does not have a justification for asking those questions.
“ It is our responsibility as health workers, as scientists to provide the correct information about COVID-19 vaccines, and indeed any vaccine,’’ he said.
He recalled that a similar vaccine hesitancy was experienced during polio vaccination some years ago.
“20 years ago, we had over 578 children. And the same people who said, oral polio vaccine was not safe, have not come out to come and say they were sorry, that they were wrong, that is always the problem,” he explained.
Shuaib added that even before the country got its COVID-19 vaccines,there were a lot of noise that Nigerians should not take it, because they will down and die.
“We are about a little over 200 million Nigerians, and those 200 million Nigerians, walk in the streets, those same individuals that rapidly shared incorrect information have not come out to recant.
“ This is the nature of conspiracy theories, this is the nature of misinformation such information breeds vaccine hesitancy,” he stressed.
He called on the media to continue its strong collaboration with the Federal Government, Presidential Steering Committee, (PSC), and its donors and development partners to push the correct information out there to Nigerians.
“When Nigerians have the correct information that will take away an irrational decision about the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Again, the numbers of vaccination show that Nigerians are rational, that they are taking what the government is making available in terms of information about vaccines,” he added.
NAN, reports that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to progress, the first vaccines have been rolled out and Nigeria hopes to vaccinate about 70 percent of its citizens between 2021 and 2022.
However, vaccine uptake is a concern that has taken center stage in the recent past, with a flood of misinformation and doubts about the safety and utility of the vaccine spreading far and wide in the country.
The allegations that so many healthcare workers remain unvaccinated is troubling news for public health officials who are counting on the vaccines to stop the spread of the virus.
Experts worry that the rest of the population will follow suit.
Experts also added that the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak cannot be halted without a vaccine.
They advised that Nigerians should not seek herd immunity as a protection from an outbreak, and the transmission of an infectious disease like COVID-19. (NAN)