Educate public on importance of COVID-19 vaccines, UNICEF tells journalists
Worried over public apathy towards COVID-19 vaccines, the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) and media executives have charged journalists to educate members of the public to see vaccines as lifesaver.
They made the call at a one-day media executive meeting in partnership with the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCAS) on Child Rights Influenced Reporting on COVID-19 pandemic in Enugu State.
UNICEF Health Specialist and Officer in charge of Enugu Field Office, Dr. Olusoji Akinleye, said UNICEF recognised the role of the media in the fight against COVID-19 since its outbreak.
He noted that although the Federal Government, UNICEF and other development agencies had made considerable progress in ensuring that the pandemic was contained through vaccination, members of the public still largely resisted the vaccines.
Akinleye, who lamented that so many children have died from coronavirus, disclosed that in the next few months, Nigeria will start administering the vaccines on children under 12-years.
He said the vaccines were not available because a lot of processes were involved before any drug could be administered on children, urging parents to ensure that their children were safe and protected by observing all safety protocols.
Also speaking, Director-General of BCAS, Umuahia, Anyaso Anyaso, commended UNICEF for championing the cause of women and children in society, adding that the meeting was aimed at harnessing the roles of media and UNICEF in championing the welfare of women and children, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A resource person from Community Medicine Department of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), Dr. Obasi Chikezie, who presented a paper on COVID-19: Vaccination As A Lifesaver, stressed the role of the mass media in accurately reporting child rights influenced information to contain the spread of the pandemic.
He expressed concern over the low coverage of vaccines in the country, saying that about 80 per cent of people died from ignorance that they contracted COVID-19, while 20 per cent that survived had severe cases.
Chikezie said the role of the media in COVID-19 vaccination was to remind everyone of the benefits through research and investigation of information against the use of the vaccine.
On her part, UNICEF Communication Officer, Dr. Ijeoma Ogwe, also urged media practitioners to debunk ramours about coronavirus, but rather use their medium to engage members of the public positively on the vaccines.