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Published On: Tue, Oct 17th, 2017

Vaccination: Like South East, like North West

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TUESDAY Column by VICTORIA NGOZI IKEANO

vikeano@yahoo.co.uk 08033077519

They both have similar nuances and the underlying reasons similar – they both suspect that a vaccination exercise was/is meant to depopulate their numbers. In the one case the depopulation was to come about through allegedly making recipients of the vaccines infertile while in the other case the vaccines are alleged to be poisoned and would eventually lead to death. However whereas in the northwest the targeted ‘victims’ were supposed to be infants, children under five years; in the recent case they are between the ages of five and 16 years – primary and secondary students.
Peddlers of the unfortunate information in the North west zone then (during former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s second term ) were identifiable – clerics and some governors who publicly stated that the immunisation programme (a joint action between the federal government and the United Nations Children’s Fund, among others) meant to protect infants against the five child-killer diseases) was a ploy by western countries to curb Moslem population. They therefore rejected immunisation exercises in their states.
Today such people are ‘born again’ as they are in the forefront of campaigns for immunisation. Immunisation programmes which these days are continuous, routine exercises are now generally accepted in the north with clerics, opinion and political leaders and of course traditional rulers co-opted as mobilisers and indeed in some instances the latter are threatening sanctions against parents and guardians who refuse their wards/ children the vaccination.
In the instant South east case those who started the ‘news’ that students were being forcibly vaccinated by soldiers with poison were unknown. We can only guess. The information with no identifiable sources spread like wild fire aided by the social media and before one could say Jack Robinson, parents and guardians were already rushing to schools to withdraw their children while older students took to their heels. A commotion and hysteria soon set in. It was a rumour.
Try as hard as the head teachers/principals could to assure the public that no vaccination was taking place in their schools, the citizens turned deaf ears to such statements, swallowing the wicked, fake ‘news’ from the darkness, hook, line and sinker. And to think that our thinking faculty often deserts us when unsubstantiated rumours are being peddled about; a little logical thinking would have exposed the rumour for what it is – a lie, borne of mischief and meant to cause disaffection against the military and the federal government.
In the first place no vaccination programme was taking place in any school at the time. Nobody saw any student being injected or any medical team of whatever hue in any school. All those involved in the panic action based their decision on “they said, they said….”, no eyewitness . Medical outreaches by either military or civilian doctors are usually undertaken in one community at a time, never in several places at the same time, not to talk of hundreds of schools simultaneously in five, six states. Ratio of doctors to our population is still very much inadequate. Outreaches by military medical personnel (as with other such programmes) do not involve vaccination per se, are not targeted at students nor forced on the benefitting community. Rather those in need of medicare, cutting across all classes, voluntarily come to the designated place. And the services rendered by medical outreaches of all categories are routine- high blood pressure, sugar, eye tests with related drugs, medicines for common ailments like malaria, pain relievers, etc. Those in need of eye surgery after necessary tests are given referrals.
A medical doctor in whatever capacity he/she finds himself/herself is trained to save life and indeed did take a Hippocratic Oath. It is inconceivable to me and like-minded people that a (military) doctor who swore on graduation “to seek and preserve life” would want to kill his fellow countrymen and countrywomen, children for that matter with a lethal injection. Thus such dangerous rumours can only emanate from dark minds.
It is said that what happened in the south east is a reflection of the mistrust people have of the military. Those who harbour such mistrust are themselves untrustworthy and would trust nobody, not even their relations. A man/woman of good disposition would always think good of the other person and one aligned with evil shall always impute evil intentions to other peoples’ actions.
I see that some politicians in particularly Anambra State appeared to be lending credence to the rumours with their utterances while others sat on the fence rather than sticking out their necks for the truth. Their posturing is for political expedience – Anambra governorship poll is just a few weeks away.
Will the evil propagandists who are still continuing in their false activities repent and be born again sooner than later? As a saying goes, whereas a lie may endure for years, it takes literally one minute for the truth to catch up with it and blow it off. Evil cannot endure forever.

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