As part of the COVID-19 awareness project, Friday Bako, the implementing partner with the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) and MacArthur Foundation has organized a town hall meeting with youth influencers from Riyom Community on COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness.
The town hall held at Riyom resort hall in Plateau State on the 23rd December 2023 had Youth influencers drawn from surrounding communities.
Delivering a talk on the subject matter the guest speaker Mr. Tobias Choji, Chief Medical Laboratory Scientist at National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI) Vom in Plateau State, called on Youth influencers, and citizens to play frontal roles in encouraging Covid-19 Vaccine Uptake so as to achieve herd immunity.
He said that the Covid-19 Vaccines had been certified safe globally because it has passed through the different stages of a clinical trial.
“The Covid-19 Vaccine has gone through all four clinical trial stages. Both the efficiency and effectiveness have been tested and approved by the World Health Organization (WHO)”.
“The covid-19 Vaccine was developed faster than other vaccines which took years to develop because it belongs to a family of viruses that already exist and technologies needed for the research already exist. Another reason is that every country shared their genetic information and findings about the virus, some of the stages of the clinical trial took place simultaneously, a lot of finance went into the development of the vaccine, information on social media also helped the development of the vaccine, and many organisations took the risk to start the mass production of the vaccine while waiting for authorization after which the where distributed”.
Mr. Tobias Choji, urged the Government to create an avenue for checking citizens that have taken the vaccine to ascertain those that have actually been immunized. He encouraged the use of “Seroprevalence”, which is a system of checking the number of persons in a population who test positive for a specific disease based on serology specimens; often presented as a percent of the total specimens tested or as a proportion per 100,000 persons tested.
On Civil Society Organizations and Non-Governmental organizations, Mr. Tobias Choji, urged for more town hall meetings and avenues for citizens’ engagement to address lingering concerns and the dispelling of misinformation and fake news.
“Citizens must take their health seriously, and avoid taking information from unauthorized persons. When citizens also get information from town halls such as this, they should in turn be willing to sensitize their family members and immediate community.” He said
Choji added that any adverse event that one may experience after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine might not have a relationship with the vaccine as it can be as a result of a preexisting sickness in the system such as malaria.
Implementing Partner of CITAD/MacArthur Foundation COVID-19 Vaccine Public Awareness Project, Comrade Friday Bako in his address said the objective of the town hall meeting is to get influencers who will learn about the Covid-19 Vaccine safety and effectiveness after which they can also create public awareness in there various communities.
“The program has been on for almost a year now and so far the town halls have yielded positive results as this is the fifth town hall meeting in the series covering all the senatorial zones in Plateau state. We have seen an increase in the uptake of the vaccine as a result of several engagements held as such the need for more advocacy”
The highlight of the meeting witnessed participants assenting to become implementing partners and ambassadors for correcting some of the wrong perceptions that are contributing to the slow uptake of the covid-19 vaccines in their communities.