A clinical psychologist, Dr. Perpetual Chia, has appealed to the Federal and state governments against compulsory COVID-19 vaccination, saying enforcement might be counterproductive and chaotic.
Chia, Vice-President of the Nigeria Association of Clinical Psychologists, made the appeal in a statement released on Thursday in Lagos.
She noted that making COVID-19 vaccination compulsory was not the only way to obtain high vaccination rates.
According to her, vaccination should not be forced, adding that people should rather be sensitised and encouraged to willingly access the vaccine.
“We need to also reach out to community leaders, religious leaders, you know Africans believe so much in our community and religious leaders.
“When we use them to reach the people, it will be easy for people to trust and respond properly,” she said.
Chia said that if people were forced to get the vaccine, it would make the public unwilling to present themselves for voluntary testing and increase stigmatisation.
“Stigma is real and it is here with us. There were a lot of issues of stigma with COVID-19, even among some of us health workers.
“Stigma was a factor that made so many people unwilling to come out and access treatment, people would hide in their rooms and try treatment and self-medication.
“Some of them at certain points became very severe and they had to bring them to the hospital for treatment,” she said.
She added that forcing the vaccination on Nigerians could further aggravate mental and physical illness among citizens.
According to her, many people are still battling with the consequences arising from the COVID-19 lockdown, which resulted in domestic violence, physical and mental assault, as well as a high rate of substance abuse.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Dr. Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency had said the Federal Government might sanction eligible Nigerians who refused COVID-19 vaccination.
Edo and Ondo States had already announced plans to restrict access to public places for unvaccinated residents.