Nigeria’s Public Health Expert, Virologist, Program and Research Manager with the Institute of Human Virologist, Nigeria (IHVN), Sophia Osawe has added her voice to the call on Nigerians to accept the COVID-19 Vaccines in use and make sure they are vaccinated if herd immunity against the virus is to be achieved.
She made this known on Wednesday 4th May, 2022 during a Special COVID-19 Vaccine Public Education Programme on the topic “Achieving Herd Immunity Against COVID-19 through Vaccine Uptake” on KT 103.9 FM Jos sponsored by Centre for Information Technology And Development/MacArthur Foundation.
According to the Expert, it is important that a greater proportion of the population vaccinated to make the actualization of herd immunity possible which in turn will prevent the usual transmission of COVID-19 to other people and make infection almost impossible. She stressed the need to completely eradicate the virus through mass vaccination.
She said in the past, polio virus was able to be eradicated because of the mass vaccinated achieved against the virus.
“Herd immunity is about vaccinating enough people to the extent that the disease will break in transmission, break infecting people and hopefully eradicating the disease, as it was achieved in the case of the smallpox in the past”
She decried the perception of the public on COVID-19 and the Vaccines which has affected the uptake in developing Countries when compared to their developed Counterparts.
She also expressed displeasure over the widespread of fake news and misinformation against the COVID-19 Vaccines which followed through clinical trials and owing to the emergency situation the World was faced with, the intervention of health professionals across the World under the strict supervision of the World Health Organization (WHO) made the production of vaccines possible for full use by the public.
According to her, virus are very hard to deal with and the fact that they easily mutate make it so difficult to study well.
“The science world is saying lets vaccinate as many people as possible to stop this virus from changing to the extent that we can even deal with it anymore” she said.
She emphasised that while there are persons who may not be able to take the vaccine on account of certain conditions and age, it is important for those eligible to take in order to protect the vulnerable in the community from contracting the virus.
She said since COVID-19 is very infectious and contagious, the need for vaccination by a reasonable population cannot be overstressed.
“Vaccine helps the body to produce strong antibodies towards the virus and getting people vaccinated will definitely help with this pandemic” she hinted.
She said religious beliefs and the fear associated with not knowing the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines are stopping people from taking same.
“Vaccination is a powerful tool and I hope people will get enough information and make that crucial decision of taking the vaccine” she said.
She harped on the need for more public education and result-oriented campaigns on the safety of COVID-19 Vaccines just as CITAD/MacArthur Foundation are doing to ensure the public are better enlightened.
“There is need for more awareness and strategizing towards reaching the community with the message of information, talk to them a lot about the vaccines, talk to them about the fears they may have, open discussion dialogue, bring professionals on the table to explain all these and science communication is key and this programme is also doing that reaching out to the communities and bringing Experts to talk about it so information is definitely key”
“I know with the COVID-19 vaccines, a lot of Countries are experiencing this mandatory vaccination; personally I am not championing that as I don’t believe you should force people but make them understand the importance of taking these vaccines” she said.
She said the vaccines are available at vaccine centres and most Primary Health Centres have the vaccines.
She said having mild or severe reaction is normal and it connotes that the vaccine is working and is preparing the body for COVID-19 in case one comes in contact with it.
She said it is vital to visit vaccine centre in the event of severe reaction as a reporting system exist for such cases.
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