The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday commended journalists for raising awareness against COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.
The WHO Nigeria communication officer, Charity Warigon, in her goodwill message at an event in Abuja said journalists had proven their capability and had done invaluable work over the years.
Warigon said the theme of the conference, ‘Improving Confidence in COVID-19 Vaccine in Nigeria beyond 2021: The Role of the Media,’ was timely, saying it not only speaks to the present but also to the future of making Nigerians healthier.
She said, “Journalists can only improve on what we have achieved so far and even do better, as there is so much to attain in driving confidence in the vaccination effort by building trust and continuously being a trusted and reliable source.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, unlike any pandemic in history, has affected everyone and every country in a manner unexpected, although there had been calls and available support to nations to build their health systems and security in preparation for future outbreaks.
“In the earlier phases of the pandemic, there was the absence of sufficient knowledge to inform the development of vaccines as the sciences were limited, which were exploited by mischief makers, through what we call, infodemics.”
“If we are to build and/or maintain trust, this noble group and profession are one out of a few that have historically been proven to be trusted to provide information that shapes the behaviour and lives of generations of peoples the world over.
“The media and journalists are the bridge between scientists and the public. It behoves every member of the Fourth Realm of the Estate to, as social responsibility, ensure the provision of accurate, timely, credible, understandable, relevant, and actionable information through various communication channels.
“Our messaging must continue to remind the public that, for the foreseeable future, we must continue to wear masks, physically distance, and avoid the crowd. Being vaccinated doesn’t mean that we can throw caution to the wind and put ourselves and others at risk: relaxing public health and social measures interventions should be done cautiously and with careful attention paid to those who remain unvaccinated.”