The Center for Information Technology and Development, CITAD, a non-governmental organisation has organized training for Journalists and health workers on how to deepen the campaign for the acceptance Covid-19 vaccine in rural communities in Nigeria.
The participants’ code-named “Covid-19 Vaccine Champions” were drawn from the middle belt, north Western and North Eastern part of Nigeria.
The Executive Director, CITAD, Yunusa Zakari Ya’au at the training venue held at Tahir Guest Palace, Kano said the training was organized to enhance the skill of Journalists and health workers on how to convince the public, especially rural communities to accept the Covid-19 Vaccine amid rumours and misinformation.
“The reason for the programme is to try to find ways of convincing Nigerians, they need to take the Covid-19 vaccine.
We know that there is a lot of rumour, misinformation about the Vaccine so we want to educate the public that all these rumours are not true, the vaccine is safe… So people should protect themselves by taking the vaccine,” said Ya’au.
He said the training which involves knowledge about the vaccine and its efficacy, how to produce media content for target groups using broadcast, Print and Social media outlets, tracing and countering fake news on Covid-19, is one of the mechanisms being used by the organization to stop resistance to taking the Covid-19 vaccine.
” We are training people who will go back to their states, especially communities and we will support them to carry out the campaign and public education for people to take the vaccine.
They are part of other strategies we are undertaking.
“In each of the states across Nigeria, we have a Radio program on a vaccine that is running.
We have also empowered three different organizations in each of the states working to educate the public reaching out to different strata of people including Almajiris so that the public can get enough information as quickly as possible,” said the Executive Director.
Dr Hassan Shuaibu, a public health consultant with the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, while facilitating on “National and Global Perspective of Covid-19” said the disease is a public health emergency that has serious implications to our collective existence as such there is the need for more action as the virus mutates.
“We should strive to see that individually, we get ourselves organized, we protect ourselves and have ownership of prevention of the further spread of the disease at individual and community levels.
“We challenged participants to have a better understanding of Omicron the new variant of the Covid-19, especially how the disease changes its properties over time, thereby posing a challenge to the global scientific community.
Omicron is a notifiable disease, we are about 200 million people so having one case is dangerous enough.
“We call on everybody to join hands as a collective effort to advice for higher vaccine uptake, distribution and accountability so that in the near future we have total control of the disease,” he said.
He said not taking the vaccine makes people more vulnerable to contracting the disease as people go about their normal daily activities, as such Nigerians should take a cue from countries that embarked on mass vaccination and brought down the Covid-19 death rate in their countries.
“For those who have partial vaccination by taking one or two doses.
What happens is that they have a significant level of protection to the variants that are known
“The DG NCDC has approved the third booster dose, we advocate that people should get themselves vaccinated, especially in the face of the new variant,” advised Dr Shaibu.
Austine Aigbe, a Senior Programmes Officer with Center for Democracy and Development, CDD, who facilitated on “Understanding Social Media Based Campaign, Developing the Right Tools” said to counter fake news on the Covid-19 vaccine, there was the need to equip journalists with basic social media tools.
“This two-day training is important so that Journalists and health workers can easily detect fake news, counter them and carry out a convincing campaign on their platforms for the acceptance of the Vaccine,” said Aigbe
Participants at the workshop agreed that the workshop has deepened their knowledge about the disease especially the new variants and is better equipped with how to carry out a campaign for more people to get vaccinated.
Other topics delivered at the workshop include: Crafting the message, Tracking and Reading the Analysis, Online Safety and Digital Privacy issue.
COVID-19: CITAD trains Journalists on vaccine acceptance campaign