AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), a Non-Governmental Organisation, on Thursday, engaged over 40 women in Cross River as champions to curb COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. The engagement, which took place in Calabar, had women groups from the 18 local government areas of the state like the Ekori Women’s League, Ambitious Ladies Foundation and others.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that even though COVID-19 vaccines and others are available in most of healthcare centres, residents of Cross River have refused to take them for fear of the myths mostly read on social media and fear of reactions.
Dr Echey Ijezie, the Country Programme Director of AHF Nigeria Country Office, said the essence of the gathering was to make women champions in the fight against COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the state.
Ijezie said women played key roles at the community level and highly influential and so were important in any form of advocacy and information dissemination.
He added that in spite of the false information being peddled on social media, COVID-19 was still very much around and killing people.
“We decided to bring women together as champions to fight the challenge of vaccine hesitancy and also listen to their fears because the public trust women.
“We want to ensure that we let the people know the importance of getting vaccinated and also assuage their fears, which are mostly myths peddled by uninformed people.
“It is not fair that government is spending so much to acquire vaccines, including the ones donated by other nations and we don’t use them, preferring to believe
falsehood on social media”, he stated.
Mrs Joy Chabo, the Cross River Immunisation Officer, disclosed that the state was targeting 70 per cent COVID-19 vaccination of its residents.Chabo said available data shows only 17 per cent of Cross River’s target population received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and only 11 per cent took the first and second doses.
“This means that those that are fully protected are just 11 per cent of the target population; this is very poor when compared with some other states that have
achieved over 90 per cent vaccination success.“My message to the public is that those not yet vaccinated should respond as the vaccines are free in all health facilities in the state.”
On the issue of adverse reactions after receiving the vaccine, Chabo said that Adverse Event Following Immunisation (AEFI) was normal as different body
compositions responded differently to vaccines.
She said that due to the low rate of immunisation, Cross River had not attained herd immunity, so, it was important for everyone to use the nose mask, wash hands frequently and sanitise properly whether vaccinated or not.
“Vaccinated persons can still get infected, they may not go down with severe illness and death but can be healthy carriers, spreading the virus to others, this is why you still need to protect yourself and those around you,” she asserted.
One of the participants, Mrs Itam Ofor, the President of Ekori Progressive Women’s League, said she had a lot of misgivings about the vaccine before the engagement. She, however, added that she was now better informed and would go back and sensitise her people on the need to get vaccinated. (NAN)