Experts warn against misinformation on malaria vaccine

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A malaria expert, Prof. Olugbenga Mokuolu, has cautioned the public against spreading misinformation about the malaria vaccine, saying it is safe and a huge boost to the global malaria eradication efforts.

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Mokuolu, Special Adviser to the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare on Malaria, gave the warning in an interview in Lagos.

He expressed concern at the level of misinformation and conspiracy theories that have surrounded the vaccine even before its arrival and introduction into Nigeria’s immunisation plan.

Mokuolu noted that the vaccines are important additional tool in the fight against malaria alongside mosquito nets and anti-malaria tablets.

According to him, the vaccines have been subjected to over 50 years of rigorous research and development efforts.

“It is different from the COVID-19 vaccine scenario, and would be unfair that after lots of man-hour in research people come out to castigate what they know nothing about.

“I would like to state with strong authority that the government would not be irresponsible to throw the lives of its citizens in jeopardy.

“If you want to make criticism, ensure the context is believable.

“We have several other vaccines that are deployed and implemented massively across the country. If anyone wants to use vaccine as a tool of biological warfare, must it be the malaria vaccine?

“Why didn’t they use the existing vaccines to achieve the same purpose especially as those ones already have a large level of acceptance,” he said.

He advised that everyone should stay on their lane in terms of information dissemination.

“It is strange that those who don’t have the science are the ones talking more about the processes and authenticity of molecular substances.

“That sounds paradoxical to me,” he said.

Mokuolu noted that malaria continue to directly endanger health and cost lives, especially of pregnant women, infants and children under five years of age.

The professor emphasised that the country must harness research and innovation alongside other interventions to protect its people from the devastating consequences of malaria.

Similarly, Prof. Wellington Oyibo, Consultant Medical Parasitologist, said citizens should welcome innovation in malaria control efforts, noting that innovation is a dynamic process that helps achieve better outcomes.

Oyibo advised the government to engage with the public, especially religious leaders on the components of the malaria vaccine, understand and allay their fears, to achieve good vaccination compliance.

The roll-out of the malaria vaccines have began in some African countries, while Nigeria announced that it will commence the exercise before the end of the year, starting with Kebbi and Bayelsa states.

 

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