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Red cross identifies causes for low Covid-19 vaccination

Group picture of participants at the Covid-19 Emergency Operation Training, organised by the Nigerian Red Cross Society and the International Federation of the Red Cross and partners. Photo: Oduyemi Odumade

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Nigerian Red Cross Society (NRSC) say effective communication is critical for mitigating the public health risks associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, and also addressing rumours and misconceptions surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine.

This is the submission of participants at a 2-day capacity building workshop organised by the IFRC and the NRSC on Social mobilisation for the Covid-19 Vaccine.

Since Nigeria commenced the rollout of  Covid-19 vaccination in March Last year, a total of 12,588,718 eligible persons have been fully vaccinated being 12.2% of the nation’s population. While 18% of the eligible population making a total of 20,151,241 people are partially vaccinated.

Hesitancy, non-compliance, lack of confidence in vaccines, and inequalities in the distribution of the vaccine are to be blamed for the low level of vaccine uptake in the country.

In a bid to address the aforementioned concerns, the Nigerian Red Cross and Red Crescent Society and its international partners organised the workshop to build the capacity of its members to train other volunteers for effective vaccine coverage through an awareness campaign on the need for vaccination, especially for people at the grassroots.

This is why the IFRC Senior Immunisation Officer, Maji Huntuwa argued that vaccinations remained the ultimate step towards reducing severe illness from the pandemic as well as saving the lives of the affected persons.

“The right information is needed to be passed to these people to make them accept the vaccine”, Huntuwa said while expressing concerns over the inadequate information and rumour surrounding the safety of the vaccine.

NRSC Health and Care Coordinator, Dr Manir Jega, “from official records about a million vaccines will be expiring every month from now till September if nothing is done”.

Dan Usman of the Kogi State branch and Rabiu Musa of the Bauchi State branch of the Nigerian Red Cross Society agreed that the exchange of ideas and scaling up good practice would reduce Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy.

The risk communication and community engagement activities are targeting 5 states of the federation; Kogi, Edo, Ebonyi, Bauchi, and Bayelsa states as they are states with low vaccine uptake.

Reporting by Oduyemi Odumade; editing by Muzha Kucha