FG may go hard on Nigerians who refuse COVID-19 vaccination

Individuals who reject COVID-19 vaccination in Nigeria won't be handled with kid gloves.

President Buhari receives first dose of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on March 6, 2021 (Tolani Alli)

There may be no place for anti-vaxxers in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, if recent remarks from the boss of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) are anything to go by.

Nigeria rolled out its first phase of COVID-19 vaccination in March and ended same in July.

The second vaccination phase kicked off on August 16, as more COVID-19 vaccines from different manufacturers become available.

Thus far, 2.9 million people have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, says the federal government may not tolerate vaccine hesitancy going forward.

“The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) and the Federal Ministry of Health is exploring ways of making vaccines more available to all Nigerians including federal civil servants and corporate entities," Shuaib says.

"Once these vaccines are made equitably available to all Nigerians, then we would need to have a frank discussion about justice, fairness and liberty that exist around vaccine hesitancy.

“If some individuals refuse to take the vaccine, hence endangering those who have or those who could not due to medical exemptions, then we have to apply the basic rule of law which stipulates that your human right stops where mine begins.

"So, you have a right to refuse vaccines, but you do not have the right to endanger the health of others,” Shuaib warns.

He adds that proof of vaccination against COVID-19 is now compulsory for all pilgrims travelling to Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem; and that unvaccinated people may soon be barred from entering certain countries.

Nigeria has recorded over 191,000 COVID-19 infections since February 2020, with nearly 2,500 fatalities.

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