The President, Nigerian Medical Association, Prof. Innocent Ujah, has warned the public to be cautious, saying being vaccinated doesn’t mean they should be careless to risk COVID-19 infection.
Ujah gave the advice during the 11th Annual Symposium of the Health Writers Association of Nigeria (HEWAN) on Wednesday in Lagos.
The symposium was themed; “Building Confidence In COVID-19 Vaccines”, and sub themed: “Addressing COVID-19 Hesitancy In Nigeria: The Role Of The Media.”
Ujah said that preventive measures should still be adhered to, noting that research was ongoing to ascertain the degree of protection vaccines provide against the virus and transmission.
According to him, there is an urgent need to inoculate more Nigerians against the virus toward achieving herd immunity quickly.
The NMA president noted that the available vaccines in the country was more than the population that had been vaccinated, stressing the need to overcome vaccine hesitancy.
Ujah said that vaccine hesitancy was fueled by mistrust, complacency, fear and misinformation, noting that the media have a role to play in educating the public on the importance of vaccines.
He commended HEWAN for its efforts in disseminating health promotion messages and dispelling rumours and misinformation about the various vaccines.
Ujah appealed to world leaders to ensure equitable access to the vaccine, especially for the most vulnerable people.
According to him, Africa must stop its dependence on other countries for vaccines, noting that the continent must develop vaccine production capacity.
Ujah was represented by Dr. Saliu Oseni, Deputy Secretary, Nigerian Medical Association.
Also, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, Professor of Virology, called for collaboration between the government and private sector to actualise vaccine production
in the country.
Tomori in his speech titled: “Vaccine Production In Nigeria: The Role Of The Government”, said that there was a need for government to remove bureaucracies that hinders synergies in vaccine development.
The virologist appealed that the government should make the facts available to people to enable them decide, bridge mistrust and invest.
Tomori advised the public to maintain all preventive measures and avoid exposure to the virus, adding that these would assist to curtail spread of the virus.
The professor said that people ascribe the vaccine to what it was not supposed to do.
He said the role of the vaccine was to protect a person from getting infected by the virus, and not to stop exposure, noting that the vaccine was internal while exposure was external.
Tomori noted immunity takes at least 10 days before it develops, adding that it was a body reaction.
Commenting, Mrs Chioma Obinna, President of HEWAN, said that the theme was chosen following continued conspiracy theories around the COVID-19 vaccines and the disease as a whole.
Obinna said that many Nigerians continued to reject the COVID-19 vaccine out of ignorance or based on unconfirmed stories and information they get from social media, friends and family members.
“As responsible health journalists, these and more informed our choice of the topics for this year’s symposium,” she said.
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