COVID-19: UNICEF targets Campus youths to combat hesitancy to vaccine uptake
BY: Our Admin
The United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has flagged off a campaign in campuses of tertiary institutions targeting youths to become Vaccine Champions who will combat hesitancy to the uptake of COVID-19 vaccination.
Flagging off the campaign from the Campus of the University of Cross River State (UNICROSS) in Calabar on Thursday, the Director, Community-4-Development UNICEF, Dr. Rufus Esuchi disclosed that the the Youth Vaccine Champions campaign will go round campuses of various tertiary institution with the aim of tackling misinformation on COVID-19 pandemic and the uptake of vaccines.
Speaking to over 2000 students of UNICROSS, the UNICEF Chief disclosed that the initiative is to first understand from the students what their fears are on the COVID-19 vaccines, educate more about the pandemic and engage volunteers who will the same social media platforms to debunk rumours and mis-information circulating online and offline.
He further disclosed that UNICEF, WHO and NPHCDA have been working together to implement the youth vaccine champion engagement initiative to support vaccination particularly the COVID-19 vaccination, and thanked the Vice Chancellor of UNICROSS Prof. Augustine Angba and the management team for being the first among the tertiary institutions who agreed to partner in the lunch of the Youth Vaccine Champion initiative.
He gave the objectives and the roles the Youth Vaccine Champions will play to include: “Mobilise communities to get vaccinated; Track, report and dispel rumours and misinformation and: Provide accurate and up-to-date information to address hesitancy in communities and on social media as regards Coiv-19 Vaccines and vaccination.
The representative of the World Health Organisation at the event, Chisom Emeka expressed gratitude and commendation to UNICEF for the initiative and disclosed that so far in Cross River State, statistics shows that about 130, 000 persons have taken the first dose of the vaccine and 78, 000 have taken the second dose.
She noted that COVID-19 is bound to remain for a long time in the world and that until over 80% are vaccinated, even the vaccinated ones still need to practice the preventive measures in other to curb the spread.
The representative of the Director General of the State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Mrs. Joy Chabo explained to the students that there was no side-effects from the vaccination as wrongly held by many.
According to her, the vaccines are safe. Well tested and screened before the approval that was given.
She also responded to concerns of some students that the speed at which the vaccine came out is largely due to advancement in technology and research. That they should dispel the myth that it was programmed to reduce life span of those who take the vaccines.
The Student Union President of UNICROSS Comrade James Otu also spoke at the occasion commending the organizers and requested that their support and empowerment in their campus should include the upgrading of the school medical center.
The organizers at the occasion share the expected outcome of the initiative with the students and listed them as follows; that: “Vaccine Champions are well informed about COVID-19 and vaccines”; “Effective use of social listening tools to debunk rumours and mis-information circulating online and offline;” “Increased knowledge on how to promote the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines on social media and within communities”; and “Increased peer-to-peer engagement strategies on how to share factual and positive information to promote vaccine confidence”.