The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, has called on the federal government to clear existing myths surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines expected in the country early February.
Mr Abubakar while speaking at a Sensitisation Programme on COVID-19 vaccine for Muslim Scholars and Imams in Nigeria, on Wednesday, said this will help traditional and religious leaders convince their people about the efficacy of the vaccine.
The programme was facilitated by the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), as part of efforts to ensure people accept the vaccines when it finally arrives in the country.
The traditional ruler said there are many conspiracy theories that the vaccine is meant to kill Africans.
“People talk of conspiracy theories that the vaccines are meant to kill us but will anyone wait to use the vaccines before they can kill us? So many drugs and products are imported into the country so if anybody wants to kill us there are one million ways to kill us,” Mr Abubakar said.
“The vaccines are free but the decision to take the vaccine is a personal choice so you should know every information about the vaccine.”
He said the vaccines are not yet in Nigeria, but it is an opportunity to bring up questions and fears about the vaccines so that authorities can offer answers.
“We cannot force people to take the vaccine, as the decision to take or not should be a personal choice,” he said.
He said Muslims know that knowledge is very important, and that Islam was founded on knowledge.
With the second wave of coronavirus pandemic spreading fast, countries across the globe are already securing and administering vaccines for their citizens.
Sensitisation is also ongoing amidst fears that many may not accept the vaccine due to doubts of safety, religious beliefs, amongst other factors.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported plans by the government to get President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and other dignitaries to take the vaccines on live television when it finally gets to the country.
The Nigerian government said it will receive at least 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech approved COVID-19 vaccines by February through COVAX, an initiative run by the vaccine alliance, GAVI, to ensure equitable access to vaccine.
It also said the country is expecting ‘free’ 42 million doses of vaccines in the second phase through the COVAX facility.
These vaccines will, however, cover only about 20 per cent of Nigeria’s over 200 million estimated population.
Nigeria’s health minister Osagie Ehanire recently said efforts are ongoing to secure 10 million doses of the viral vector vaccines to cover an additional 50 per cent of the country’s population.
In his remarks, the Executive Director of NPHCDA, Faisal Shuaib, said Nigeria will rather not have vaccines than to import bad COVID-19 vaccines.
He said all vaccines imported into the country are certified safe for human use.
Mr Shuaib explained that the eradication of polio in the country would have been impossible without the sultan and other leaders; hence the need to reach out to them again to seek their buy-in and ensure they understand the issues surrounding the COVID-19 vaccination to enhance better communication with their subjects.
“We cannot make the same mistake twice. We are sensitising our religious leaders so that they will be able to communicate with their followers,” he said.
“Religious leaders are very respected in their communities and it is whatever they say that the believers and the followers take home to their families and their loved ones and so the collaboration between the NPHCDA and the Supreme Council is very crucial.”
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...