By Tarhyang Enowbikah Tabe*, HJN Member in Cameroon
The Vaccine Was A Must-Take For Me: Pedmia Shatu, Cameroonian Journalist, Fact Checker
A few days after Cameroon received the first 200,000 doses of the COVID-19 Vaccine, top Government Officials including the Minister of Public Health have started taking the vaccine. A few journalists and health reporters have also had the chance to be vaccinated. One of such is Pedmia Shatu Tita, Journalist, blogger, certified Fact checker and digital rights activist based in Bamenda, North West Region of Cameroon. (Image below, courtesy of the author.)
In this interview she granted moments after receiving the vaccine, she said, to her there was no way she would have missed the opportunity when it came. As a Certified Fact Checker, could her thirst for Factchecking be another reason for running towards the Vaccine when the opportunity landed?
Let’s Find Out….
Tarhyang Enowbikah Tabe: You are among the first in the media and actually the first in private media landscape to be vaccinated in Cameroon. So tell us, what motivated you to take the vaccine?
Pedmia Shatu: I had suffered from COVID-19 and got treated and I think that’s one of the reasons I decided to be one of the first to take the vaccination when the opportunity came. My symptoms were so severe and I felt like I might not survive another wave. To me the vaccine was a must-take. I had symptoms like running nose, watery stool, heavy chest, at some point I will have a sharp pain on the chest, body weakness, severe headache and severe fever too.
Tarhyang Enowbikah Tabe: Your fear of the second wave was a motivating factor. You must have also read about the vaccine and its effectiveness before deciding to take it.
Pedmia Shatu: Yes. I read SINOPHARM announced on 30 December that phase three trials of the vaccine showed that it was 79% effective lower than that of Pfizer and Moderna. But Bahrain and UAE that had adopted the emergency use of SINOPHARM said the vaccine was even 86% according to interim results of its phase three trial. Hence with these statistics, I was convinced to go for it.
Tarhyang Enowbikah Tabe: Should Journalists take the Vaccine or Not?
Pedmia Shatu: It’s an individual decision whether they take or not. As far as if journalist should take it or not, I think for now the vaccines are not even available for the population so priority is given to those who play with patients on a daily basis and the next category will be depending on certain modalities first of which is their direct contact with the masses. It could be teachers, religious authorities and security forces.
Tarhyang Enowbikah Tabe:: Did you have any side effect after?
Pedmia Shatu: Let me act as the guinea pig to say that like other vaccines it may come with headache and fever but I haven’t had any of those.
Tarhyang Enowbikah Tabe: As a Journalist, what do you make of the controversial reports concerning the acceptance and rejection of the vaccine?
Pedmia Shatu: The rejection is not strange because the denial began from the very beginning when people didn’t and still do not think that COVID is real. It has a lot to do with shifting mindsets to know if the virus exists or not. No one has complete knowledge about it. However, our medical experts have at least some mastery of the happenings around signs and symptoms and treatment and if we have doubt’s they are better placed to respond than cling on rumors. The denial of the virus we should know is the more reason why we have a rise in community related deaths. I think that the controversy and debates around all the vaccines is necessary for those doing it in good faith.
* Check out The Advocate Cameroon, the author’s own blog for more articles! (This article was originally published on April 26 on the author’s personal blog)
Note by the author:
Pedmia Shatu Tita is a Communication expert, Peace Journalist, Fact-Checker, Digital Rights activist with high interest in Advocacy on Gender related issues online. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea and has been in service for 9 years. She has served as Northwest Regional Correspondent for Dan Broadcasting System Television, Spectrum Television and as Chief of Programs /Editor in Chief at City FM Media Group Bamenda. Pedmia has passion for Human Rights Reporting particularly in the domain of Digital Rights. She is a member of the Digital Rights Coalition in Cameroon formed in 2017 following the over 93 day’s internet shutdown. She is the Founder for Global Initiative for Digital Inclusion and Communication where the vision is to see a safe space online, void of cyber mishap and to bridge the digital divide. She has attended several Human/Digital Rights trainings in and out of Cameroon. Pedmia has been able to train youths on peace building initiatives online and equally organized workshops to drill her colleagues on basic human Rights Principles, Fake news and Fact-Checking.
Pedmia’s fearless nature in covering the Anglophone crisis has been a great lead to a success in her carrier. Pedmia is one of the first female journalist to move to one of the bushes in the Northwest Region and exposed the situation of some internally displaced which has till today attracted humanitarian response from individuals and Humanitarian organizations. This and more earned her 2 awards in her years of practice and several recognition. In 2017, she was awarded by NDEFCAM Radio in its media awards as best female crisis reporter of the year. In an attempt to make her activities inclusive, she has mainstreamed women with disability in her vision of using #Tech4Peace and #Acts4Peace
Pedmia was part of the first cohort of the FactsMatter237 Fellowship program organized by Defyhatenow a youth led organization aimed at countering hate, violent extremism online and offline and creating an atmosphere or Peace in and out of the internet world. After completion of the 3 months FactsMatter237 fellowship program, Pedmia amongst 6 other fellows were retained for the 2nd cohort that is now dubbed Africa Fact-Checking fellowship program aimed at keeping journalists, bloggers up to date with current trends in information verification with the use of tools and other new techniques. Could her thirst for Factchecking be a hidden reason for running towards the Vaccine when the opportunity landed?