From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Federal Government, said on Tuesday, that it has uncovered increasing fraudulent activities in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines that had to do with people trying to get the COVID-19 vaccination cards without being vaccinated.
In response, it said that the services of the State Security Services (SSS), ICPC and other law enforcement agencies have been engaged to investigate and prosecute persons and their accomplices attempting to fraudulently acquire COVID-19 vaccination cards without getting vaccinated.
Specifically, the government said it recently arrested and is prosecuting a staff of the FCT State Primary Healthcare Development Board who was involved in the criminal act, insisting that the staff will face wrath of the law.
Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, told journalists at a press conference in Abuja, that the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) was unhappy with the fraudulent attempts and has urged those attempting such acts to desist henceforth.
He insisted that 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, and possession of vaccination cards without receiving the vaccines is criminal and punishable by law.
He encouraged Nigerians to immediately report any suspected cases of buying and selling of COVID-19 vaccination cards without receiving the vaccines to the nearest law enforcement agency or to NPHCDA using several of its communication channels.
He reiterated that the NPHCDA was closely working with NAFDAC to monitor and handle any Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI).
“In this second phase of the vaccination rollout, we have had 4,349 reports of non-serious AEFI cases and 40 reports of serious AEFI cases with the Moderna vaccines. For AstraZeneca, we have had 1,115 non-serious AEFI cases and 38 serious AEFI cases, and these cases have been successfully treated and the affected persons are doing well and going about their normal duties,” he explained.
Dr. Faisal informed the journalists that Nigeria has gotten the International Coordinating Group (ICG) approval for 3,566,628 doses of the oral Cholera vaccines, and based on the shortage of the vaccine globally, they were able to secure some doses and had strategically mapped out and identified areas for deployment in the three states with the highest number of cases as a reactive campaign.
“Obviously, we are not relenting in the fight against cholera outbreak working side by side with the NCDC. We would continue to apply for more doses of the cholera vaccine, and we believe that as these vaccines become readily available, Nigeria would get more doses.”
Meanwhile, the NPHCDA boss allayed the fears of negative effect of the recent decision of the UK government to ban nationals of some countries from entering UK, assuring Nigerians that the new travel advisory won’t be binding on them.
He said: As you may be aware, the UK Government released a new travel advisory which would take effect from Monday October 4th, 2021. And there have been concerns by Nigerians on how the new decision would affect them. We would like to clarify that the guidance provided by the UK Government was 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 being administered in Nigeria. For instance, 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, perhaps, 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. A UK citizen on entry into Nigeria regardless of the vaccination status, is made to do a PCR test and isolate for seven days. Same applies for Nigerians entering the UK. This is called the principle of reciprocity in the diplomatic circles.
“From our usual updates to the press and Nigerians, 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.”