By Iyemah David
A Microbiologist, Dr Muhammad Abbas said the COVID-19 vaccination is one of the most significant public health achievements of humanity.
Abbas, who is Head of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Parasitology, Bayero University, Kano, said this in an interview with the Health Reporters on Monday in Abuja.
He, however, said that a significant portion of the population remains hesitant about vaccine safety, efficacy, and necessity.
He said that lack of information among social media users and the spread of misinformation concerning COVID-19 and vaccination has contributed to hesitancy in Nigeria.
“Social media users feel inadequately informed about vaccination or do not understand the information available. These information gaps may be related to information not being sufficiently sensitive to the needs of the target group,” he said.
According to him, in addition to limited information for the general population, misinformation on the internet as well as conspiracy theories can also be an important reason for refusing vaccination.
He urged all relevant agencies involved in the response to COVID-19 in the country to emphasise the relevance of providing trustworthy and quality-assured information on COVID-19 and vaccination.
Dr Abbas added that vaccinations should be easily accessible to promote the willingness of Nigerians to be vaccinated.
“Vaccinators are hard to find now. They do not stay long enough at their post. Preferably, they should designate a particular time that people can reach them.
“Give people the right information and educate them properly on the side effects they might encounter, so that they can know what to expect,” he said.
He said that to increase the willingness of the population to get vaccinated in the country, data on the acceptance of vaccination and its influencing factors were necessary.
“Findings on vaccine acceptance in the context of other infectious diseases, such as influenza or measles, are only partially applicable to COVID-19 due to the novelty of the disease,” he said.
He added that preventive behaviour such as receiving a vaccination depends on the perceived risks of disease as well as the perceived effectiveness, benefits and costs associated with this behaviour.
Abbas called on relevant sub-national governments and health authorities to improve communication and increase trust.
“It is not what should be done for just a day. It is s a continuous thing,it is an everyday thing. From what is playing out globally, it should be a continuous reminder of the need for most eligible Nigerians to be vaccinated, in order to achieve herd immunity against the disease” he stated.