By Sadiq Abubakar (KANO) –
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has called on the media as stakeholders to play their role to educate, enlighten and sensitize the public on the need to take COVID-19 vaccines and its safety
UNICEF Kano Chief of Field Office, Mr. Maulid Warfa made the call on Thursday during a two day Media Dialogue on Demand Creation for COVID-19 Vaccines held in Kano.
Warfa explained that the mission and vision of the Humanitarian partners in promoting health in Nigeria can not be achieved and sustained without the media as vital stakeholders and advocates in the society, pointing out that there is the need for proper communication for the public to understand and accept COVID-19 vaccines being administered across the country.
Represented by the UNICEF WASH Manager, Mr. Rahid Aziz, the Chief Field Officer, further, said that it has been confirmed and tested before being use that the vaccines are safe and unharmful to human beings while urging the media practitioners to disabuse the minds of the people on the rumours, misconception, misinformation and conspiracy about th use and safety of the Astra Zeneca and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines, which the Federal Government has approved and recommended for Nigerians.
He also noted that the vaccines is useful, protective and important to be administered against the effects of the virus, while calling on the media to endeavour to safe the lives of the people, which according to him “is what every humanitarian partner is doing in Nigeria and world over”.
The UNICEF officer said “COVID-19 is real and some people are still battling with the effects and for the purpose of safety and protection, it has to be treated while others have already taken the vaccines and some are yet to do so”.
A resource person, Professor Umar Pate, who also the Vice Chancellor, Federal University of Kashere Gombe state in his paper presentation on: “Debunking rumours, Misconception and Conspiracy Theories on COVID-19 Vaccines”, advised journalists to be professionals always in their write ups and be extra careful in their content analyses as well ensure quality and credibility in their news contents.
He also charged the media to always be knowledgeable and update themselves on current issues, while giving accurate and objective reportage after ensuring that adequate research and data have been observed.
Professor Pate, further, explained that the issue of COVID-19 vaccines administration has been negatively disseminated by community and religious leaders as well as politicians against th facts and truth in the forms of hate speech, fake news, offensive information in the social.media without credibility.
He called on the media to rise up to the task and challenges to ensure proper and adequate information are disseminated on the safety and importance of COVID-19 vaccines to save lives if Nigerians
Giving out the specific objectives of the meeting, Godfrey Njoku, Communication Specialist, UNICEF, said it includes advocacy to Federal and states government to provide logistics and operation support for the delivery of the vaccines, demand generation for the uptake of the vaccines and allays fears by anarchists about the safety of the vaccines.