By Bashir Bello
Despite new waves of the covid-19 pandemic being recorded on daily basis in Nigeria by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The center says vaccination against the disease has continued to suffer setbacks.
These setbacks are majorly from misinformation on the safety of the covid-19 vaccines across Nigeria. The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has linked misinformation as one of the big factors responsible for the low uptake of the Covid-19 vaccination in the country.
It also noted that the country’s challenges were majorly at the community level where huge populations were being misinformed through different unofficial sources.
Covid-19 Vaccines Resistance in Kano Communities
An investigation carried out in two Kano Local Government Areas of Gwale and Kumbotso revealed that misinformation that greeted the Covid-19 vaccine was due to the side effect and the Pfizer experience.
Umar Sani, a resident of Janbulo in Gwale Local Government Area (LGA) disclosed that some people, who took the first doses, suffered side effects like fever and headache making them refuse to go for the second dose; it is these people that are misinforming others about the covid-19 vaccines.
Investigations carried out through interactions with residents in Kabuga, Panshekara, Zawaciki, and Sani Mainage also pointed to the fact that there is a low Covid-19 risk perception.
Salisu Musa, a resident of Kabuga in Gwale LGA said the Pfizer experience in the state is still very fresh in his memory. He did not hide his disbelief in the covid-19 vaccine as he said: “It was only meant to be a test run on the people.”
“For decades no vaccination was developed to treat killer diseases like HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, or Malaria but suddenly covid-19 vaccines were produced to give people immunity against the virus. “God forbid, I have nothing to do with covid-19 vaccines.”
Also, Alh Dangambo Sale who lives in Panshekara, Kumbotso LGA revealed he has not been vaccinated, though, he struggle to lie about taking the vaccine when he suspected that the reporter was a government official. His reason for rejecting the vaccine is premised on trust.
Though he said he will take any dose if it becomes necessary for him like for some pilgrims who took the shots to obtain the covid-19 certificate as a health requirement to perform the 2022 hajj exercise.
“I have not done the covid-19 vaccination and I will not do it, because I am not traveling abroad. I am in my hometown, what do I need it for?” he asked.
In an investigative Focus Group Discussion (FGD) at Yan Lemo Naibawa, Kumbotso LGA, only one resident, Dau Sule Dau differs from Dangambo in the information about the side effects of the vaccines. Da’u who was also in the FGD said he did not experience any side effects after taking the vaccine.
He said in Kumbotso, there is a misconception that the vaccine has a side effect on mental health that it makes people feverish, some say it prevents women from getting pregnant.
“Some people who took the first shot lied that it gave them fever, and internal body weakness and refused to go back for a second dose. That is why they don’t want to take the covid-19 vaccination,” he disclosed.
According to Dau, he has taken the vaccine; in the first, second, and booster doses. And when he took all three of the, he did not feel any side effects.
In a random interview with residents of Tudun Maliki and Sheka in Kumbotso LGA, a physically challenged person (name withheld) said “I believe Covid-19 exists but I didn’t take the vaccination because I believe the pandemic will not affect me.”
Through the help of social media, it was easy to spread misinformation and fake news conspiracy lovers.
In almost all the communities visited while gathering this report, the major sources of information about the covid-19 and its vaccines were radio programs, WhatsApp, Facebook, religious leaders, and sensitization programs by Civil Society Organizations.
It was also discovered that not only did people have limited access to quality information; the kind of information readily accessible is conspiracy theories and strong cultural or religious beliefs.
Hassana Abdullahi is married with four children. She is pregnant with her fifth child and had not been vaccinated.
She said: “From what am hearing about the vaccine from fellow women, I don’t think I will ever be vaccinated.
“We know the western world does not like Muslims, they are trying to use the vaccines to reduce our population.
“Wallahi, Allah loves his people, he will not allow us to die of Covid-19.”
Lubabatu Aminu, a newly wedded housewife in the Panshekara area of Kumbotso LGA proudly said she is free from taking the covid-19 vaccine because according to her, “I learned from the women in our community that pregnant and lactating women cannot get vaccinated.”
In Yan-Lemo, Naibawa also in Kumbotso LGA an interaction with fruit sellers for four days, half of the traders said they heard that Covid-19 cannot survive the hot Nigerian weather or it is just another form of malaria that can be treated with local herbs or chloroquine.
“See, we do not believe in the vaccines because, in this market, no one has contracted it; we have never seen even one person affected by the virus. We have not seen any impact of Covid-19 apart from the lockdown and now the government is talking about vaccines.
“I don’t know about others for now, but me, I will not take it no matter what,” a major fruit dealer said.
The resistance to taking the covid-19 vaccines by residents in some communities in Gwale and Kumbotso LGA is also evident in statistics obtained from Kano State Primary Healthcare Management Board.
The data revealed that there is high Covid-19 risk perception in the two LGAs and a drop in the number of uptake of the vaccines speaks to the misinformation.
In Gwale LGA, a total of 786,512 persons took the first dose, 780,279 took the second dose and 61,172 took the booster dose.
Similarly, in Kumbotso, a total of 449,704 persons took the first dose, 368,310 took the second dose and 157,671 took the booster dose.
Health experts say the covid-19 pandemic is still very much around and ravaging every part of the country, hence the need for people in all parts of Nigeria not to lose guard.
This report was supported by the CHRICED Project of Strengthening Maternal Healthcare through Accountability Interventions in Kano State.