Concerned about the high incidence of COVID-19-related mortality among children, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with the Federal Government, will begin immunizing Nigerian children soon.
Dr. Olusoji Akinleye, UNICEF Health Specialist and Officer in Charge of the Enugu Field Office, hinted at this at a recent One Day Media Executive Meeting on Child Rights Influenced Reporting on the Covid-19 Pandemic in Enugu, organized in collaboration with the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State.
“In the next few months, Nigeria will begin providing the vaccination to children under the age of 12,” Akinleye stated, lamenting the deaths of so many youngsters due to the COVID-19 virus.
He explained that the vaccines for children are being delayed because many processes must be completed before any drug can be administered to children. However, he urged parents to ensure that their children are safe and protected by following the safety protocols.
Though the federal government, UNICEF, and other development agencies have made significant progress in bringing the pandemic under control through the importation and accessibility of vaccines, the health specialist said they are still facing serious challenges in the areas of public skepticism, unwillingness, and conspiracies against the COVID-19 vaccines.
Akinyele said, “we recognize the partnership in promoting and highlighting the right of every child to life , the very first right that every human being is supposed to have is the right to life, we recognized the fact that the media has always supported the effort of government and partners including UNICEF in promoting right to health.
“UNICEF looks forward to more robust collaboration with media and an expected upward trend in the promotion of health and hygiene practices by media in Nigeria by daily communication to the public of protocols enforced by the government to prevent spread of COVID-19.”
Also speaking Dr. Obasi Chikezie of the Community Medicine Department, Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) in his papers titled :“COVID-19: Vaccination as a lifesaver. The Role of Mass Media in Accurately Reporting Child Rights Influenced Information, to Curtail the Spread of COVID-19”, equally expressed concern over the low coverage of the vaccines in Nigeria, saying “about 80 percent of people died of not knowing that they had COVID-19, while 20 percent that survived had severe cases”.
Chikezie said the role of the media in COVID-19 vaccine is to remind everyone of the benefits by researching and investigating information that are against the use of the vaccine.
On her part, UNICEF Communication Officer, Dr. Ijeoma Onuoha-Igwe also urged media practitioners to debunk rumours against the COVID-19 vaccines but rather use their medium to speak positively on it.
She said, “use your outlets to emphasise on the need to take the vaccine and also the need to speak well about the vaccines, try to debunk rumours based on the knowledge you will gather”.
Earlier, the Director General, Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State, Umuahia, Sir Anyaso Anyaso, commended UNICEF for the role in championing the cause for women and children in the society saying, the gathering was to harness both the media and UNICEF collective roles in championing the welfare of women and children especially in the COVID-19 pandemic era