Misinformation on Covid-19 vaccination taking religious undertone -Yiaga Africa laments

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Yiaga Africa has expressed concern that the misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccination is beginning to adopt a religious undertone, with some religious leaders projecting messages against the vaccine in a country where religion is a significant influence.

According to Yiaga Africa’s policy brief on Covid-19 vaccine management signed by the Director of Programmes, Cynthia Mbamalu director of Programmes, Yiaga Africa observed that the concerns over misinformation on the COVID-19 vaccination will likely affect community trust and vaccination confidence.

She said the organisation decried that, despite the fact that the Nigeria Center for Disease Control had developed communication strategy to fight infodemic in a pandemic”, misinformation about the vaccine is spreading fast, with some political/opinion leaders spreading “messages on woes’’ negating the purpose of and need for the COVID-19 vaccination.

According to Yiaga Africa, the federal government, through its agencies, must embark on public enlightenment providing adequate information on the vaccine and the importance of curbing the spread of COVID-19.

“The public enlightenment should also include readily available information on the process of vaccination, the phases of distribution, and the vaccination benefits in preventing COVD-19.

“The government will need different levels of interagency collaboration and stakeholder partnership to provide counter-narratives to the conspiracy theories on the vaccines. This will include harping on the safety of the vaccines.

According to the policy brief, COVID-19 further revealed Nigeria’s dilapidating state with fragile health care systems and the poor planning impeding response to public health emergencies. “The poor planning on the part of the government is further causing a significant decline in people’s confidence in health systems in Nigeria”, it said.

Yiaga Africa however recommended that, if the government in Nigeria and other African governments will succeed in vaccinating their populations against COVID-19, they must build people’s confidence in the government.

“This is particularly so in Africa with very fragile health systems and infrastructure. With many governments now unable to ensure patient safety, fear of contracting COVID-19 reduces the number of people accessing local facilities resulting in an unprecedented crisis of confidence in the health system”, it said.

It said, the commencement of COVID-19 vaccination requires a clear strategy for distribution to guide and ensure uniformity of practice for the nationwide distribution of the vaccines. The need for equitable access to the vaccine according to YiagaAfrica presupposes due process in ensuring responsiveness to the need, balance and conscientiousness in determining access to the vaccines.

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