ANHEJ decries low vaccine uptake by Nigerians, says COVID-19 vaccine key to virus prevention

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By Joyce Remi-Babayeju

The Association of Health Journalists of Nigeria, ANHEJ, has decried the low COVID-19 vaccine by Nigerians saying that the vaccines remain key prevention to the virus.

President of ANHEJ, Mr Hassan Zaggi made this known today at a 2 Day Annual Conference with the theme: ” Improving Confidence in COVID-19 Vaccine in Nigeria Beyond 2021:The Role of the Media” held at Auta Ballefi, Nasarawa State.
He said,” One of the most important activity we have witnessed is the COVID-19 vaccine and the vaccine drive by countries to ensure everyone is protected from the virus.”

He charged health reporters to use their various platforms to disseminate credible information by moving out of our comfort zones to unearth issues relating to the well-being of ordinary Nigerians who may not have access to adequate information concerning the coronavirus.
He lamented that inspite of the Federal Government’s efforts through it’s agencies like the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) towards achieving herd immunity against the Corona virus, some enemies of progress are working hard to frustrate this efforts.
According to him, the media as critical stakeholders in the sector have gathered here, once again, to brainstorm on the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine and the challenge of vaccine hesitancy arising from several factors.

“Some of these factors include conspiracy theories on the safety of the vaccines, fear of the unknown, false and misinformation on social media platforms amongst others.”

“This, has, however, led to foot-dragging by most Nigerians to uptake the vaccine despite all sincere efforts by the government.”

He urged health Journalists to be concerned, adding that if urgent actions are not taken, the federal government’s target to vaccinate 55 million residents of Nigeria by the end of January, 2022, which is 50% of the target population, may not be visible.

Zaggi blamed Nigerians apathy in the uptake the COVID-19 vaccine on outright lies and falsehood being spread by enemies of the country concerning the vaccine.
He called on colleagues to finding workable strategies on how health journalists can convince Nigerians to take the COVID-19 vaccines.

Together with our senior colleagues and development partners, we will explore new approaches to overcome and silent the many falsehood being spread about the COVID-19 vaccine, he assured.
We must rise up and educate our people in all nooks and crannies to ensure they go to centers nearest to them to take the COVID-19 vaccine, he said.

He commended the Federal Government for rolling off the mass vaccination campaign, and decentralization of vaccination sites including private health facilities and places of worship to ensure more Nigerians have access to the vaccines.

We therefore, call on all Nigerians to go out and take the COVID-19 vaccines as it is safe and efficacious. If there was anything contrary, we would have told you, he admonished Nigerians.

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