The Bayelsa State government has renewed its call for residents of the state to take the COVID-19 vaccine as it is safe and effective, appealing to religious bodies to help address the myths and misconceptions concerning the administration of the vaccine.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr Pabara Igwele stated this during a One Day workshop and Town Hall Meeting on the topic, “Administering COVID-19 vaccine.”
The workshop was jointly organised by the Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP), the King Abdullah bin Abdul’aziz Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) and the Nigeria Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).
The town hall meeting was aimed at addressing the myths and misconceptions concerning the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine in the state and nation at large.
Dr Igwele noted that Bayelsa State is one of the states with the highest resistance to the vaccine, adding that to achieve herd immunity against the virus, more people need to take the vaccine.
The Commissioner who was represented by the Director of Disease Control and Immunization, Bayelsa State Primary Health Care Board, Dr Neni Aworabhi-Oki thanked all the participants for coming as the event will address the challenges of vaccine hesitancy.
The Executive Secretary of the Primary Health Care Board, Dr Martins Bekesu appreciated the various organizations present, adding that he believes the attitude of Bayelsans towards the vaccine will be different after the meeting.
Dr Neni Aworabhi-Oki while speaking on the state’s response to the vaccine noted that out of the 44,000 doses received in March this year, only 20,000 people have accepted the first dose.
She said out of the 20,000 only 6000 have received the second dose vaccination which has ranked Bayelsa as the lowest in the country.
She noted that churches have been resistant to the vaccine, as well as to other vaccines and called on religious leaders to put more effort into sensitizing their members to accept the vaccine such that herd immunity can be achieved.
On his part, the Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Archbishop Jacob Akpiri said the duty of the association is to support government policies, as such they will strengthen advocacy and sensitization about the vaccines.
Other individuals representing Muslim, youth and traditional groups, pledged their commitment to taking the message to their followers and ensure that they take the COVID-19 vaccine.