One can tell the harm of conspiracy theory by looking at what is going on in Nigeria since the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine. Many people have expressed their unwillingness to take the vaccine. Some believe that the vaccine is fake. Others insist that they are harmful. Then we have the people that see it as hi-tech “monitoring spirits”, set by the “one world order” to manipulate mankind and bring an end to the world.
Further down the line are those that insist that nothing good comes out of Nigeria. This set of persons expected the government to hoard the vaccine and give it only to the few privileged Nigerians. They also thought that the government would charge the citizens for the vaccine. But when they discover that the government will disappoint them, they begin to query why the government should force them to take the vaccine.
Another interesting group are those that will not take the vaccine unless it is a means to a crucial end. In a poll conducted by Dr. Joe Abah, an economic and political analyst, in his Twitter handle, @DrJoeAbah, yielded an interesting result. Dr. Abah conducted two separate polls to ascertain Nigerians’ willingness to take the COVID-19 vaccine and the motivating factors behind their resolves. The first poll, which was conducted on 5th March, 2021, asked, “Would you take the COVID-19 vaccine if you were offered it today?” Here, out of the 7,300 votes the poll received, 56% said “yes” while 44% said “no”.
The following day, being 6th March, 2021, Dr. Abah conducted another related poll, this time asking, “If Canada were to require you to take a Covid-19 vaccine before you can emigrate there, will you take it?” If you were expecting Nigerians to say “no” and stay put in their country, you were wrong. This poll attracted 6,575 votes, where 86% said “yes” and 14% said “no”. The question anyone in his right mind will ask is, “What changed? Is it not the same Nigerian government that will administer the vaccine?” This will tell you the irony of the unwillingness to take the shot.
But there are things Nigerians fail to consider each time they throw jabs at the government regarding this vaccine. Many people claim they don’t trust the Nigerian government and that is why they express their concern at why and how the vaccine will be administered. Many couldn’t believe the Nigerian government will spend to buy the vaccine and give it freely. A lot of people wonder why the government should even spend public funds to buy this vaccine in the first place. But what many fail to realize is that the government has been spending money on vaccines for a very long time now.
One thing Nigeria does for its citizens is ensuring that every child is immunized for the first 18 months of their lives, free of charge. No one has ever paid for the basic vaccines given to their children. Some private hospitals demand tokens as the cost for syringes and “cotton wools” but those should not be regarded as payment for vaccines. So, if Nigerians can trust the government with the lives of their babies, why won’t they do the same with the COVID-19 vaccine? If Nigerians can accept any other form of immunization, why is the COVID-19 vaccine any different?
The truth of the matter is that the conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19 and its vaccine are enormous and they are affecting people’s reasoning. Of course, it is natural for people to be afraid of new things, especially drugs, but it is absurd to assume that the same government that has protected you and your children from child-killer diseases will harm you as an adult. So far, nobody is going to force you to take the vaccine. The quantity the government has right now will not even go round. It is ok to apply caution. There is nothing wrong with waiting to see if the vaccine has side effects before you go for yours. But discouraging others from taking theirs is a no-no.