Some unvaccinated Nigerians claim that they would rather resign from their jobs than get a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
This was gathered in a survey conducted by HumAngle where 18.1 per cent of the participants replied no to: “If your employer obliges you to get vaccinated or lose your job, would you get it done?”
On Wednesday, Oct. 13, the Nigerian government directed all its employees to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, announced that from Dec. 1, 2021, all federal government employees would be required to show proof of vaccination to gain access to their offices.
According to data from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), only 1.1 per cent of the country’s population have received the two recommended doses of the vaccine. In other words, 2.17 million out of about 200 million people.
While the lack of sufficient doses of the vaccine remains a contributing factor, a survey on workplace culture towards COVID-19 and vaccinations shows that unvaccinated persons link their deliberate avoidance of the doses to doubting its safety, not trusting the content of the dosage, fear of long-term adverse effects, and lack of time or easy access.
Of the 94 participants, 55.3 per cent work in the private sector and 44.7 per cent in the public sector. The survey showed that for both sectors, 37 per cent of the respondents replied that at least five of their colleagues had gotten the vaccine.
Another interesting finding is that of the 56 participants who have yet to be vaccinated, 33 admit that their workplace encourages employees to have the COVID-19 vaccination; but that was not enough to influence them.
Meanwhile, 3o out of the 38 people who got vaccinated admitted that their employers had motivated them to get the shot.
Despite the vaccines’ rigorous testing and assurances of their safety by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 10.6 per cent of the respondents maintained that they were against being vaccinated in Nigeria while 25.5 per cent were indifferent.
The overall survey was taken by 44 people between the ages of 18 – 25 and another 44 in the age bracket of 26 – 35. Participants between the age range of 36 – 45 were four and only two persons were above the age of 46.
Nigeria’s workplace culture towards COVID-19
The advent of COVID-19 came with the average workplace around the globe making drastic adjustments to ensure safety and limit the spread of the virus.
During the nationwide lockdown in Nigeria that was imposed from March 30, 2020, productivity in many offices — due to lack of adaptation of technological innovations — ground to a halt.
Yet, after national health authorities agreed that businesses must go on but with protective measures, office spaces still hardly adhere to COVID-19 precautions.
Even with “No Face Mask, No Entry” signs pasted on entrances, social distancing, hand washing, and mask wearing within the buildings are not followed by everyone.
Employers needing their staff to get screened for a communicable disease is not particularly new. But mandatory vaccination even when justifiable for a serious disease like COVID-19 appears to be a fresh concept.
Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination around the world
Apart from Nigeria, which has made vaccination mandatory for government employees, the federal government in Zimbabwe has been listed as one of the African countries that has imposed vaccination against COVID-19.
Zimbabwe has, however, recorded 132,000 cases with 4,658 deaths.
Also, as of August, Kenya’s government made the vaccine mandatory. According to Kenya’s Public Service, the vaccine became mandatory due to rising cases and warned that those who failed to get vaccinated would face disciplinary actions.
So far, Kenya has recorded 252,000 cases from the virus and 5,223 deaths.
According to Reuters, at least 22 countries have imposed a vaccine mandate including Australia, Britain, Canada, Costa Rica, Fiji, France, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Lebanon, Kazakhstan, Malta, Micronesia, Netherlands, Turkey, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Russia, United States, and Turkmenistan.
In Fiji, “A Jab, No Job” policy was implemented on Aug. 15, AFP reported. The law also forced public servants to go on leave with a promise of dismissal from the government if not vaccinated before November. And private firms could be issued fines or forced to operate over vaccine refusal.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), twenty-three million COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Africa in September, a ten-fold increase from June.
However, just 60 million Africans have been fully vaccinated and two per cent of the more than six billion vaccines given globally have been administered on the continent.
What may influence more Nigerians to get vaccinated
Aside from the mandatory order by the Federal Government to influence Nigerian workers to get vaccinated, the Nigerian Red Cross Society has volunteers doing house-to-house vaccination to clear the misconceptions against the vaccine.
“The biggest reason why people were hesitant to receive the vaccine was because of fear and wrong information,” said Bhupinder Tomar, the Head of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The survey conducted by HumAngle also found out that most Nigerians don’t have access to hospitals and health centres administering vaccinations.
However, NPHCDA Director Dr Farouk Shuaib, in a media briefing held in October, promised to ramp up COVID-19 vaccine admission.
Shuaib also emphasised that national health agencies have put in place plans for the establishment of mass vaccination sites across the country for easy access and sensitisation.
Experts have recommended that employers do more to educate their workers about the vaccine, its benefits, and to address common questions they may have. Companies can also give paid time-off for employees to get the vaccine shots and recover from any side effects.
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