Medical guild advises Nigerians to vaccinate against COVID-19
•Don urges comprehensive coverage of citizens
Barely 72 hours to the implementation of the Federal Government’s vaccine mandate for workers in its employ, President of the Guild of Medical Directors (GMD), Prof. Olufemi Dokun-Babalola, has urged Nigerians to purge themselves of fears and get vaccinated for the good of all.
In an interview with The Guardian, Dokun-Babalola, who said vaccine mandates were not new, pointed out that the government was doing this to “ramp up the very low vaccination figures,” noting that the vaccine hesitancy in the country “is very unfortunate.”
From December 1, federal workers are expected to show evidence of being vaccinated or a negative PCR test result done within 72 hours before accessing their offices.
But Dokun-Babalola added: “The right to choose is what is called ‘Autonomy’ in medical ethics.”
A Professor of Otorhinolaryngology and public health professional, Titus Ibekwe, urged the government to go beyond the civil servants, who form just a marginal percentage of the workforce and the entire population, to target every citizen in the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination.
He argued that the government’s action through the proposed implementation of vaccine mandate for its workers could also appear justified by quoting some extant rules that empower the government to take some extreme measures in the advent of situations like pandemics, to protect its populace.
The don observed: “Looking into this policy from the surface, it appears implausible, since people will be made to get vaccinated to protect themselves, the environment and those around them, to break the chain of transmission.”
He said, “I believe these are the Federal Government and their advisers are trying to achieve by floating this measure (no vaccination, no access to public places) starting with the Civil servants under their direct chain of commands, since “s/he who pays the piper dictates the tune”.
“However, a critical analysis shall strongly suggest that the solution may not lie in the above measure since the success of a mass immunization of populace depends on three factors-level of enlightenment to the populace, availability/accessibility of the vaccines, level of vaccine acceptability /hesitancyhese three factors are what the government should rather intensify efforts on, in order to win the peoples’ conviction and confidence. The level of misconception on the COVID-19 vaccines across the globe (including Nigeria) is still worrisome.
Ibekwe advised that vaccines should be made available and accessible to everyone qualified to receive them,(Civil servants and more) in the country because the eradication of such diseases remain “all or none.
He said, “Covid-19 is a pandemic and disease of equal opportunity. Therefore, it is global and non-discriminatory, as it affects the poor, the rich, all races and gender are susceptible to this illness. What makes the difference include the immune status, level of protection or exposure of each individual. Simply put, the level of natural or acquired protection which is mostly potentiated by vaccines and the measures to reduce exposure to the viruses through universal precaution (non-pharmaceutical measures and environmental protection)”.
According to him , the NCDC, Presidential Committee on COVID-19, National Primary Health Care Development Agencies, the Ministry of Health and indeed all governmental/non-governmental agencies associated with the COVID-19 control; should reassess their strategy on information sharing in order to counter all wrong information in the public space.
“They need extra efforts and strategy to permeate the hard to reach areas and our hinter lands. This information sharing should be concerted, all inclusive, simple and in appropriate languages for the target groups. The conveyors of the messages must also be people held at high esteem by the recipients. Furthermore, we need to go beyond the civil servants who form just a marginal percentage of the work-force and the entire population, to target every citizen. The vaccines should be made available and accessible to everyone qualified to receive them,(Civil servants and more) in the country because the eradication of such diseases remain “all or none”.
“Arguments on rights, may not be helpful here since where one man’s or woman’s right starts; there another person’s ends. Placing premium on just evidence of vaccination to permit access to workplace or public places, may promote sharp practices which ultimately shall be effort in futility by the government. The populace is also enjoined to go for the vaccination and jettison the false hood peddled through several conspirator theories. One must not wait to become a victim before believing because chances of survival at extreme disease could be too slim for a chance. Very importantly is also to state that there is no substitute for non-pharmaceutical measures (face mask, hand/respiratory hygiene and physical distancing). A combination of the vaccination (pharmaceutical) and non-pharmaceutical measures has a multiplier effect at safety of the populace and the environment”, he added .
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.