Implementing Partner of the Centre for Information Technology And Development (CITAD)/MacArthur Foundation’s COVID-19 Vaccine Public Education Project, Friday Bako has urged the Media to carry out more awareness and sensitize the people about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 Vaccines to achieve increased vaccine uptake if COVID-19 pandemic is to be wiped out.
The implementing Partner of the Project made this known during a Media Parley in Jos, the Plateau State Capital on Wednesday 27th July, 2022. He said the virus is still around as people are still contracting it globally hence the need for the public not to lose their guards even with the relaxation of the COVID-19 health protocols which were put in place to curtail the spread of the disease.
He said the ongoing COVID-19 Vaccine Public Awareness Campaign they are executing is a one-year project sponsored by CITAD/MacArthur Foundation to promote vaccine acceptance and access for marginalized groups in the Northern States of Nigeria which objectives include: to Carry out public education on the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 Vaccines to tackle vaccine resistance and hesitancy which in turn will increase the rate of vaccination in the State; Monitor the deployment, distribution and use of vaccine in order to promote accountability and transparency in the management of the vaccine working with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the state level counterparts as well as the Nigeria Centre for Disease control (NCDC) as well as other civil society actors working on health sector accountability and Increase level of information about access points for getting vaccination working closely with the State Primary Health Agencies.
According to him, the critical role played by the Media who he described as opinion molders, gatekeepers and source of accurate information as well as their ability to hold those in authority accountable necessitated the parley. He decried how fake news, conspiracy theories and other false claims that have not been scientifically proven have adversely affected the uptake of the COVID-19 Vaccines saying the media being the watchdog of the society have significant roles to play in dispelling misinformation about the virus and vaccines produced to fight the virus. He stated that right information has the propensity of transforming and reforming the people and the society, while inaccurate information and misinformation is disastrous and deforms the people.
“You are partners in progress and engaging you will have a significant impact in the actualization of this project.
“We want to specially commend you for your relentless efforts in disseminating accurate information. We will want to work with you to change the perception of the public about the COVID-19 Vaccines which have gone through the rigorous processes and approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) for both emergency and full use. The COVID-19 Vaccines in circulation have been certified by the WHO which is responsible for international public health to be safe, efficacious, harmless and useful in eradicating the Virus. On this note, it is important to commend the efforts, synergy and the collaboration of World Health Experts who worked round the clock to make sure vaccines are produced within the shortest time to tackle the virus.
“It is important that the media rise up to its responsibility of feeding the public with accurate information about COVID-19 and the vaccines by dispelling fake news that have heightened hesitancy. We look forward to working closely with the media to achieve the objectives of this project. We also want to call on the general public to ensure they get their information especially concerning the COVID-19 Vaccines from reliable sources such as the WHO, NPHCDA, NCDC and other health professionals to avoid being misinformed” he stated.
He gave the global figures of the pandemic as at Tuesday 26th July, 2022 as Total cases numbering 576,590,997; Total Deaths stood at 6,406,003; Recovery figure 546,531,513 and active cases (Currently Infected Patients) 23,653,481 of 23,612,044 (99.8%) are in mild condition and 41,437 (0.2%) are in serious or critical condition. New Deaths in France 119 persons.
He said in Nigeria 260,764 cases were recorded with 3,147 deaths so far and 4,025 active cases. From 23rd to 25th July 2022, 425 new confirmed cases were recorded in 14 States of Nigeria with Lagos State having 124 cases (29%), while Plateau State recorded 10,279 confirmed cases, 75 Deaths and 21 persons still on admission according to available data which he said is an indication that the virus is still around hence the need for the citizens to be vaccinated so that we can achieve herd immunity
He disclosed that the project has conducted two (2) town hall meetings (one each in Plateau North and Central Zone) while two are in the pipeline to be consummated soon and forty five Radio Programmes public health Experts especially those in Vaccine production and other critical stakeholders were engaged to increase awareness on the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 Vaccines. He said drama were done, with fifty eight Jingles aired and banners produced and placed at strategic parts of the State all in the effort to sensitize the public on the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 Vaccines and the need for the public to be vaccinated.
He hinted that they are committed to engaging the media, traditional rulers, religious leaders, CSOs, Youths/Women Groups, and other community-based organizations to drive this awareness campaign effectively owing to how important they are to the project execution and overall success.
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