By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA- THE federal government has assured that Nigeria would not be amongst countries listed on the United Kingdom’s (UK) red list.
Executive Secretary, National Primary Health Care Development Agency,NPHCDA,Dr Faisal Shuaib,who,gave the assurance, Tuesday,at a briefing he held to update Nigerians on the progress on the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination in the country,said already,the United Kingdom has given assurances of their satisfaction with the types of COVID-19 vaccines being administered in Nigeria.
Speaking on Nigeria’s status on the UK’s modified COVID-19 vaccination guidelines for inbound travelers, he said there was no cause for alarm, as the vaccines used especially the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, was recognised by the UK.
Hear him:“We would like to clarify that the guidance provided by the UK Government is that they would want to simplify the classification of countries from green, amber and red to just red and green list. Therefore, countries that are currently on the amber list may fall into either of these two categories.
“We have had preliminary discussions with officials of the UK Government. Without prejudice to the information yet to be released, we have been assured that Nigeria will maintain the status quo. That is to say Nigeria will not be on the red list. The UK Government have also stated that they have no issues with the vaccines used in Nigeria.
“The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, also known as COVISHIELD that is used in Nigeria was approved by the UK regulatory body (MHRA), other stringent regulatory authorities and the World Health Organization. So, the UK Government does recognize the vaccines used in Nigeria.
“The UK is doing a phased approach to deal with the high demand and volume of people arriving their Country. It is important to stress that this phased approach is still under review by their Government and they would be providing updates regularly. For Nigeria at the moment, there is no change in the guidelines for entry of Nigerians into the UK.
“Citizens are aware that the vaccines used in Nigeria are donations from the UK Government, the Canadian Government and the United States through the COVAX facility.
“We would also like Nigerians to note, that the number of people immunized is one of the factors that most countries assess when making travel restrictions. This is why we would continue to encourage all eligible Nigerians to visit the nearest designated health facility to get vaccinated.”
He warned that any one caught with a fake COVID-19 vaccination card without having received the vaccines, would be prosecuted as criminals.
While condemning the fraudulent selling and buying of fake COVID-19 vaccination cards in the country,Dr Faisal Shuaib,said his organisation was already collaborating with anti graft agencies and other security outfits, to launch an investigation and prosecute anyone found culpable.
“With the increase in COVID-19 vaccination mandates globally, it has come to the notice of the NPHCDA and the Federal Ministry of Health, that attempts are being made by unscrupulous persons to procure the COVID-19 vaccination cards, without receiving the COVID-19 vaccines,”he said.
Speaking further, Shuaib said:“NPHCDA and the Presidential Steering Committee strongly condemns these fraudulent attempts and is urging those attempting such acts to desist henceforth. The ongoing COVID-19 vaccination and the vaccination cards are totally free of charge at all designated COVID-19 vaccination sites across the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT.”
According to him,“Possession of vaccination cards without receiving the vaccines is criminal and punishable by law. The NPHCDA is collaborating with the State Security Services (SSS), ICPC and other law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute any persons and their accomplices attempting to fraudulently acquire COVID-19 vaccination cards without getting vaccinated.”
He said over three million doses of the oral cholera vaccines have been secured, and plans were underway to perfect distribution to most affected states in the country, in order to contain the cholera outbreak.
“It is worthy of note that Nigeria has gotten the International Coordinating Group (ICG) approval for 3,566,628 doses of the oral Cholera vaccines. Based on the shortage of this vaccine globally, we are pleased that we have been able to secure some doses and we have strategically mapped out and identified areas for deployment in the three States with the highest number of cases as a reactive campaign.
“We will continue to apply for more doses of the cholera vaccine. We believe that as these vaccines become readily available, Nigeria would get more doses,”he said.