By Hassan Zaggi
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has raised concern over attempts by those it described as “unscrupulous persons” to procure the COVID-19 vaccination cards, without receiving the COVID-19 vaccines.
The Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, raised the concern at a media briefing in Abuja, Tuesday.
He, however, disclosed that his agency and the Department of State Servers (DSS), the ICPC and other security agencies have partner together to investigate, arrest and prosecute those involved.
Dr. Shuaib, insisted that it is criminal to possess a COVID-19 vaccination card without actually being vaccinated.
According to him: “With the increase in COVID-19 vaccination mandates globally, it has come to the notice of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (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.
“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.
“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.
“The individual in this case is not a staff of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency but a staff of the FCT State Primary Healthcare Development Board.”
He, therefore, called on the general public 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 through COVID-19 hotline: 07002201122.
He, however, reassured that is agency is closely working with the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (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 on non-serious AEFI cases and 40 reports of serious AEFI cases with the Moderna vaccines while for AstraZeneca we have had 1,115 non-serious AEFI cases and 38 serious AEFI cases.
“These cases have been successfully treated and the affected persons are doing well and going about their normal duties.
“I would like to encourage Nigerians to download the Med-Safety App from Android or IOS stores for reporting AEFI cases or report directly to the nearest government health facility whenever the unlikely events occur,” Dr. Shuaib stressed.
Speaking, the Country Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, has said that WHO’s recommendation that entry into any country of the world should not be restricted to those who are vaccinated still stands.
According to him, “proof of vaccination should not be a pre-requisite for travel and may deepen inequities, particularly while the vaccines continue to be in such short supply.
“No region or country should face more restrictions because they are unable to access vaccines.”
He, therefore, called on all countries to recall and respect the principles of the International Health Regulations (IHR) that vaccines must be approved by WHO and be of suitable quality and universally available before they can be considered as a prerequisite for travel.
“If someone is fully vaccinated with any of the vaccines with WHO Emergency Use Listing, they should be treated in the same way, regardless of which vaccine they received. WHO recommends that the same rules should apply for all individuals who have had an EUL vaccine, with no difference in restrictions depending on the product,” Mulombo stressed.