Govt mulls compulsory COVID-19 vaccination

Vaccination against COVID-19 will soon become compulsory, the Federal Government said on Thursday.

Presently, vaccination is voluntary.

Government workers will be first to be mandated to take the jab, when the planned policy begins, Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha said.

He spoke in Abuja at a conference by the Health Commission.

However, the government will ensure mass availability of vaccine before implementation of the plan.

Already, the government has made vaccination compulsory for Nigerians going on pilgrimage in Saudi Arabi and Israel.

Ondo State government took the first step towards compulsory vaccination when on Monday its State Executive Council (SEC) approved a proposal for compulsory vaccination of residents.

The same step taken by Edo State government was halted by a court injunction.

Mustapha, who is Head of the Federal Government agency battling COVID-19, said: “The vaccine mandate obviously will come. Before now, the simple yellow fever vaccine, you could not travel the world without the card until Nigeria was exited from the list of endemic countries. Therefore, the world is gravitating towards that direction. I can tell you that by the time the western world vaccinates its people, you can’t get into any of the Western countries without the vaccine certificate; it has started happening in the European Union dispensation now. They have created some waivers for people that have been vaccinated. It is better we begin to prepare people at home.

One of the reasons we want to do that with federal civil servants is because they will be travelling to perform roles on behalf of the Federal Government. The United Nations General Assembly will be starting very soon and we will need our people to go there. Assuming the American Government says that you can’t come into the U.S. unless you are vaccinated, and we have not provided vaccinations for our people, how will they go and prepare grounds for the meetings that will be attended by the President and other top government officials?

It is a sequential thing and we are taking one step at a time. We realised we do not have sufficient vaccine. So, we will not be able to impose those kinds of mandates on an automatic basis; it has to take some time and we will make sure that the vaccines are available and are deployed in the appropriate places and people will have the opportunity of getting the vaccines before we impose the mandatory nature of whether you have vaccines or not before you can access government facilities.”

The biggest haul of vaccine the country is expecting is the 29 million doses of American-made Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccine

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