William Attah, Gombe
Journalists have been described as key players in encouraging acceptance of vaccination against covid-19.
This is coming at a time a lot of misconceptions and rumours are going round public and private spaces on the alleged myths surrounding the covid-19 vaccines, especially in Nigeria.
A renowned communication specialist and Vice Chancellor, Federal University kashere, Gombe State, Professor Umar Pate, stated this in a paper titled ” debunking rumours and conspiracy theories”, he presented at the commencement of a two day media dialogue on covid-19 vaccines campaign, held in Kano and organized by United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.
According to Professor Pate, Journalists play a key role in encouraging people to take the covid-19 vaccines by giving the public credible information and avoiding culturally sensitive reports so that the vaccines can be accepted.
He said, there are some misconceptions, rumours or fake theories surrounding the covid-19 vaccines but that the media has the sole responsibility of passing credible information to the public with the aim of making them accept the vaccines.
He said Journalists must take the lead if not, somebody will take it away from them, adding, “you will do it by providing credible information, stop culturally sensitive reports so that people will accept it”.
Professor Pate emphasized that, ” that cannot be done except the Journalists are fully informed, knowledgeable and equipped with the skills of disseminating the information “.
” That was why I said first, the Journalists must believe in it, secondly, ensure they are well equipped with the knowledge of how they arrange information, package it and disseminate it so that people can accept the information in their own language and maybe even in their own terms. So, it is left for us to identify the nature of our own individual communities and know how to serve them well”.
The Professor then charged Journalists to make fact checking their priority especially when they are in doubt, since the public rely on them for information.
He said, “as a Journalist, when you hear a story which you do not know the source and you can not verify, what are you supposed to do? Fact check, ask others to confirm.
“Once you’re able to fact check one or two sources and you’re able to ask two or three areas and you can not confirm the credible source of that particular information and there are certain things which appear doubtful to you, you know that you are not obliged to use it”.
Some of the misconceptions identified during the dialogue were, that covid-19 vaccines could cause infertility, negatively affect one’s DNA, people will die in few years time, a plot to reduce the population of black people among many other reasons for not taking the vaccines.
Dr. Murtala Jibril, of the pharmacology and therapeutic department, Bayero University, Kano, spoke on the the reality of covid-19, history and efficacy of the vaccines.