Misconception surrounding the uptake of COVID 19 vaccine in Nigeria— 3mins read
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By David AROME
DESPITE reports of the existence of COVID 19 in Nigeria, many Nigerians are still doubtful and sceptical of the existence of the coronavirus. Additionally, a significant population of Nigerians are resisting the administration of the COVID 19 vaccine.
There has been a steady expression of concerns about the vaccine by many people in cities and rural communities across Nigeria. These concerns are often triggered by misconceptions generated through the information that is not supported by science.
There is a misconception surrounding the uptake of the COVID 19 vaccine across status and classes of members of the society. Our investigation, however, found out that the growing misconception is heavily pronounced among young people. There is a general assumption among this population demographics that the pandemic had not been as deadly among young people as it has been with the elderly.
This investigation also found out that social media platforms now serve as a serious vector in the spread of COVID-19 related misinformation. There has been an aggressive spread of information intended to ignite fear in the minds regarding the vaccine and how those who have received the jab have become prone to “Bluetooth” connector signals.
Some of the major vectors of misinformation on the COVID 19 vaccine are incidentally social media influencers. These influencers leverage their popularity on social media platforms to spread misleading information about COVID 19 vaccinations. Noticeable was the trending post on Twitter by a well-known former senator, Dino Melaye, who went online to spread misleading information on Covid 19 vaccine. (https://bit.ly/3fHuX9f)
According to him, “for one hundred years we could not fund vaccine for cancer, for over forty years we are yet to find any vaccine for HIV/AIDS, for over hundred years, researchers have been going on, finding a vaccine for diabetes, we are yet to find a vaccine. How is it possible on earth that in one year, we find a vaccine for COVID 19? An intelligent gathering has reviewed that some of those who took that vaccine died within three days (https://bit.ly/3fHuX9f)
Wider acceptance of these misconceptions often informed young people’s decision to join the bandwagon in spreading misinformation without any form of a check to authenticate further and validate the information.
There are also many “conspiracy theories” surrounding COVID 19 and the vaccine presently in use. The trending misconception on COVID 19 vaccine making the rounds on the social media platforms are highlighted as follows:
COVID 19 vaccine was hurriedly released into the market
The question making the rounds is why COVID 19 vaccine was hurriedly released into the market while the development of other vaccines takes years. Health experts said the trial process had been fast–tracked and prioritized due to emergencies on the ground. The bottlenecks were removed so that testing and evaluation could be done quickly. They state that irrespective of the speed of its development, the vaccine has been going through careful evaluation.
The vaccine will further induce COVID 19 virus
Some believe that the vaccine creates the avenue to further proliferate COVID 19 to anyone administered with the vaccine. Some have attributed this misconception to the body reaction to the vaccine in some people who took it. Health experts have, however, debunked this claim assuring that the vaccine cannot induce a spread. According to health experts, the vaccine does not contain any live virus.
It’s my choice to either accept or reject
The notion that the vaccine administration is an individual choice without compulsion may have instigated a feeling of laxity among Nigerians. This seems to create a dilemma in making significant coverage across the society and may pose a greater danger to Nigerians.
Long–term side and adverse effects
Health experts have countered the misconception that the vaccine has a long-term adverse effect on humans. According to health experts, “vaccine side effects manifest very quickly; allergic reaction, injection site inflammation, fever and muscle aches, mRNA, have a short transition period and breakdown very fast; hence there is no need for concern about serious long term side effects”. (https://bit.ly/2SiVqlq)
High survival rate
The misconception that the survival rate from COVID 19 is high could pose a greater danger in spreading the virus, as people who decline the vaccine uptake could stand as potential carriers and spread the virus.
Scholars have debunked several of the misconceptions. Health experts say the vaccine being used have passed through rigorous clinical trials and certified safe for human use. (https://bit.ly/3fcj7F3).
In a swift reaction, the presidential task force has debunked claims and counter disinformation on the Covid vaccine before its arrival and usage in Nigeria. (http://bitly.ws/duY8)
Vaccines have been a front-line strategy used in the protection and prevention of emerging diseases. Though the vaccination schedule in Nigeria is in phases with a specific target group at each phase, dissemination of the right information to correct the wrong impression against the COVID 19 vaccine has not been as emphatic as expected. The vaccine requires wider acceptance and coverage to meet the desired objective.