The Nation of Friday, March 26, carried a letter from a concerned reader who alleged that the Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity is not doing enough to popularise Covid-19 vaccine.
The citizen further complained that I was angry and too emotional during a Covid-19 vaccine civic awareness session on March 19.
I sincerely thank him for raising these issues. It is this government’s policy to be not only transparent, but also open to constructive engagement with the citizens.
This is why my ministry has developed a citizen-government engagement platform called Pabwalo where matters of national importance will be discussed between citizens and public institutions.
I took interest in the letter because it raises concerns about a critical issue: the prevailing fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the concerned citizen misunderstood and mistook for anger my clarification that sharing of inacurate information that would compromise public health and welfare is wrong and unlawful.
Therefore, it remains my duty to reiterate what I shared with the public on March 19.
Prior to and during the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination on March 15, there has been a plethora of myths and misinformation likely to dissuade people from taking the vaccine, which could derail the government’s fight against the pandemic.
The myths include the claims that the vaccine is not safe because it has been developed within a short time compared to other vaccines; that the vaccine smacks of a foreign agenda of killing Africans and that the injection has deadly side effects, including blood clots.
The World Health Organisation and other competent health experts say vaccination works by teaching the human immune system how to recognise and fight the virus, protecting the body from getting sick even when one catches the virus.
This process can cause symptoms such as fever in some people. Science shows that this is simply a sign that the body is building the protection against the virus. People should, therefore, not get scared of such side effects. The vaccine is not meant to kill anyone, but rather secure them from the deadly virus.
Contrary to the claim that information about the pandemic has not been done in the rural areas, the Covid-19 awareness campaign has reached the rural masses.
So far, 34 vehicles with public address systems were deployed in 28 districts and about 11 million people have been reached out with the necessary information.
Further, the ministry, together with other ministries and stakeholders, has facilitated daily live briefings since January 18. This is aired on radio and TV stations from 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm.
My ministry remains on course, collaborating with ministries of Health and Information and other stakeholders to continue creating awareness on the vaccine and Covid-19.
Let me take this opportunity to emphasise that civic education exercise is a multi-sectoral responsibility.
My ministry’s core mandate is to develop and hold policies that regulate civic education actors both in public and private sectors in the country.
The ministry is pleased that some civic education actors such as the clergy have responded positively by stepping up their Covid-19 vaccine awareness.
We call upon other actors to emulate this because together we will excel.