By Lizzy Okoji
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament says intense sensitisation is required to increase the rate of vaccination of ECOWAS citizens.
Hon. Francis Alimikhena, representing Nigeria at the ECOWAS Parliament, made the call on Thursday, in Abuja.
He said this while fielding questions from journalists in response to the country report at the ongoing 2021 Second Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Alimikhena while presenting his country reports said the Nigeria was making efforts to vaccinate 80 million of its citizens before the end of 2021.
Alimikhena, however, noted that to achieve this feat, Nigeria as well as other Member States need to increase its sensitisation on vaccination as most people still think the vaccines are unsafe.
He said that others, unfortunately, do not even think that COVID-19 is real hence, the need to double up awareness down to the grassroots.
“For us to achieve 80 per cent vaccine in Nigeria is a bit difficult because there are a lot of skepticism about the vaccine, some religious belief.
“Some people have been brainwashed that there is no need to take the vaccine.
“But even they should know that all the Heads of States have taken the vaccine, even the Nigeria’s President, the Vice President which means that the vaccine is good for everybody,” he said..
According to him, you could see yesterday that at the Federal Secretariat, they said if you do not have the vaccines you should not enter the office.
“If they obtain such posture at public gathering then you can achieve such 80 per cent targets.
“And, probably talk to religious institutions to re-echoe it so that they could drum it to their congregants that it is good to be vaccinated.
“Normally, these vaccines do not pass through the National Assembly, they are sent to the States for them to be distributed to Local Governments and other places.
“All we need to do is to tell our Constituents that it is good for them to make themselves available for this vaccine and the importance to them,” Alimikhena said.
On availability of vaccines, Alimikhena said that the Federal Government was working extensively to ensure the availability of vaccines so that every Nigerian can get vaccinated.
Alimikhena said that for local governments and communities where vaccines are scarce, the local authorities should bring it to the attention of the state governments.
“There are some local governments that do not have vaccines but it is the job of the government of that state to supply the vaccines.
“For the Members of the National Assembly, it is important for them to also create more awareness to their constituents.
“The Federal Government is trying its best to get these vaccines available to all. But the problem is actually the mindset of people who think the vaccine is not safe.
“If you go to the local communities some of them still do not believe there is COVID-19. Even when you tell them to wear face masks they would be reluctant.
“But it calls for gradual education to them,” Alimikhena said. (NAN)