The federal government has decried the activities of people it described as mischief makers in spreading misinformation and disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine, saying it is a challenge the media must brace up to tackle.
This is even as the federal government expressed dissatisfaction at the virility at which the false information spread through the social media, insisting that it calls for more deliberate, decisive, and consistent steps to counter as well as provide correct and accurate information that will help more people to make informed decision to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA Dr. Faisal Shuaib noted that the latest in the chain of conspiracy theory is the one in which people are meant to believe that COVID-19 vaccine creates magnetic field around vaccination site and can cause the body to light up an electric bulb.
Describing the rumour as ridiculous, Dr. Shuaib expressed concern that vvulnerable members of the society tend to believe them and continue to take the risk of avoiding COVID-19 vaccination.
While noting that the fabricators of conspiracy theories about COVID-19 are in the minority, the NPHCDA boss insisted that it has become necessary to confront the false theorists with accurate and true information to the public for Nigeria and the world to overcome COVID-19 and recover from its adversities.
He said, “It is evident that Nigeria has made significant progress towards utilizing the 4 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine we got from COVAX facility, and that is why our vaccine roll out has been described as the best in the African sub-region. As the country prepares to receive additional vaccine supply to commence phase 2 of its strategic vaccination plan, our attention has been drawn to, yet another level of disinformation targeted at discouraging people from seeking vaccination against COVID-19.
“The anti-vaccination elements have come up with magnetic conspiracy, in which they claim, and are deceiving people with videos, that COVID-19 vaccine creates magnetic field around vaccination site and can cause the body to light up an electric bulb.
“As ridiculous as this and other conspiracy theories are, vulnerable people believe them and are therefore continuing to take the risk of avoiding COVID-19 vaccination. Although the people who are manufacturing conspiracy theories about COVID-19 are in the minority, the virulence of the social media increases their reach. For this reason, ladies, and gentlemen, it has become necessary for us to confront the false theorists if we really want Nigeria and the world to overcome COVID-19 and recover from its adversities.
“At the onset, it was claimed that COVID-19 was introduced to justify developing vaccines that would be used to depopulate Africans. Those who came up with this theory said that anybody who takes the vaccine would die immediately. Today, as we all can see, nearly 4 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in Nigeria and we have not recorded any case of death linked to the vaccination.
“On seeing this reality, the rumour mongers changed their narratives into saying that the vaccines used in Europe and America are not the same as the ones used in Africa. Again, as evidence have come to show, it is now clear that the COVID-19 vaccines used in Europe, America and elsewhere in the World are the same used in Nigeria and other countries in Africa. The conspiracy theorist went silent about this claim and are now saying that anyone who takes the vaccine will die after two years. Nigerians are predominantly a country of Muslims and Christians. We know that these religions are clear that no-one knows the year of the day they will die. So why would we even pay attention to such spurious claims?”
Dr. Shuaib while revealing that about 2,495,632 people have been vaccinated with the first dose, while 1,370,130 have received their second dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria, he remarked that Nigeria has successfully utilized 3.9M doses, representing 96% of the 4,024,000 doses of the vaccines received in the country.
He expressed readiness of the federal government to achieve 100% utilization of the doses of vaccine it has received in the next few days as a matter of deliberate effort to ensure that Nigerians are protected against COVID-19, and normalcy is restored.
While urging all Nigerians to continue to wear face masks, wash your hands frequently, observe social distancing and take other precautionary measures against COVID-19, Dr. Shuaib assured that the Presidential Steering Committee and the Federal Government are committed to providing safe and effective vaccination against COVID-19 in the country.
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