…as Sanwo-Olu Frowns At Misinformation On Vaccine
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has said persisting rumours and conspiracy theories about the COVID vaccine have affected the uptake of the vaccine in Nigeria despite the increasing demand of the vaccine in Lagos State.
Speaking at the South-West Edition of Town Hall Meeting on COVID vaccination in Nigeria hosted by Lagos State government and facilitated by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID19 in collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Sanwo-Olu averred that false and alarming conspiracy theories about the COVID vaccine abound, seeking to sow doubts in the minds of the people.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folashade Jaji, the governor noted that many of the rumours and misinformation have gained ground amongst the populace with a significant effect on the popularity of the vaccination campaign.
He said: “Uncensored and unmonitored social media content is of course also helping to amplify these conspiracy theories and misinformation. These myths and rumours need to be aggressively dispelled in order not to jeopardize the efforts of all stakeholders, and to ensure the protection of the health and wellbeing of our citizens.
“We must never get tired of pointing out that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective, with more than three billion doses administered worldwide, thus far, and close to one billion persons fully vaccinated. Nigeria did not record any case of death associated with the COVID-19 vaccine, of the almost four million Nigerians vaccinated so far”
Sanwo-Olu while noting that the African Continent is lagging behind the rest of the world, both in terms of the availability of vaccines and the number of persons who have been vaccinated, stated that the widening gulf in vaccination coverage will have major global implications in the near future, if unchecked, stressing that the world must rally around to ensure that Africa is not left behind.
“Lagos State government in collaboration with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and other equally concerned stakeholders will continue to do everything possible to ensure that Nigerians are properly educated and sensitized on the need to take the vaccine, while also continuing to observe all the other guidelines and precautions,” the Governor stated.
He tasked everyone, especially stakeholders in the vaccination campaign including other South-West Governors, royal fathers, development partners and opinion leaders to keep sensitizing citizens on the need to adhere to all precautions and guidelines that will bring the pandemic to a halt.
He said: “As influential stakeholders, we must continue to reiterate the interventions introduced to curtail the community transmission of the COVID19 infection; regular hand washing, wearing of face mask, physical distancing and refraining from non-essential travel.
“These must not be taken for granted in any way. We must stop this virus by all means possible, it is an opportunistic virus, depending on us as humans to spread it and give it room to develop into more deadly strains.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on our royal fathers, religious leaders and elders to please continue in their efforts to fill the gaps in terms of community knowledge on the benefit of the COVID19 vaccination, and also to help dispel false rumours about the vaccine”.
“We must get our neighborhoods and communities to own the vaccination campaign and the entire fight against the Corona virus. We can and must win this battle, and it starts with collaboration and partnership.”
Speaking in the same vein, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi stated that demand for vaccine in Lagos is very high adding that he is not surprise Lagos is playing host to the Town Hall Meeting because of the need to build on the vaccine acceptance and address issues of vaccine hesitancy particularly as some evidence suggests that Lagos State is going into a third wave.
While noting that Lagos is beginning to see increasing activities at public and accredited private laboratories over the last three months which suggests that many more people are testing positive to COVID, Abayomi said the increasing numbers of COVID positive cases is inevitable in Lagos because of the cosmopolitan nature of the State.
The commissioner noted that Lagos State testing capacity is close to three thousand daily stressing that a lot of the COVID tests were done free of charge. He added that the State government will continue to make COVID treatment available and do all it can to win the war against the global pandemic.
Also speaking at the event, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Primary Health Care Board, Dr. Ibrahim Mustapha said the town hall meeting is a public enlightenment programme geared towards calling the attention of citizens to the COVID vaccination exercise and its importance in the war against the global pandemic.
He noted the idea behind the town hall meeting being hosted by Lagos is to call the attention of citizens to the fact that COVID vaccine is safe and that citizens should be receptive to taking the vaccine.
According to him, the COVID vaccine has been proven to be safe and effective against COVID infection because in climes where they have vaccinated a lot of people, the people that are dying from COVID disease are those that have not been vaccinated.
While noting that the first phase of the vaccination exercise in Lagos and Nigeria has been concluded, Mustapha hinted that the next phase of the vaccination exercise is scheduled to commence in a few weeks when the Federal and State Governments receive the next consignments of vaccines.
Highlighting challenges encountered during the just concluded first phase of the vaccination exercise in Lagos, the Permanent Secretary disclosed that the issue of access, electronic platforms and improved service delivery even at the primary health care level would have been addressed going forward.
Speaking in the same vein, the Executive Director, Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib explained that as plans and preparation for the second phase commences, ‘a whole family approach’ vaccination mechanism would be utilized.
He noted that this is because Nigeria is also plagued with other preventable and treatable diseases adding that NPHCDA and other stakeholders will use the opportunity of COVID-19 vaccination to integrate with other health systems.
He disclosed that the Federal Government through the NPHCDA has received communication for the delivery of the Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer-Bio-N Tech and Johnson & Johnson vaccine shipments in the coming months.