Federal Government has neutralized the fears of most Nigerian travellers, particularly to the United Kingdom (UK) of being subjected to “unnecessary” COVID-19 protocols/restrictions as a result of COVID-19 vaccination.
The government, however, assured Nigerian travellers to the UK that the COVID-19 vaccination exercise in Nigeria is in line with global standards, and that relevant UK agencies had certified the process and are in peace with the process.
It, therefore, encouraged travellers to disregard the media reports that the UK government did not recognize the COVID-19 vaccination process in Nigeria, hence Nigerian travellers to the UK would be subjected to untold hardship and another round of COVID-19 protocols.
Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, told journalists in Abuja, on Tuesday, that UK is doing its routine assessment to strengthen its borders and the health of its people, hence some stringent measures to achieve its objectives.
He said: “I would like to comment on the UK Government’s statement which was released on Monday. I can confirm that Nigeria’s status has not changed. Nigeria is not among the red-listed countries that need mandatory quarantine for 14 days in a supervised UK facility.
“The statement released by the UK Government is in line with the press statement released last week that Nigerians will continue to isolate upon arrival in the UK. This is similar to our requirement to have travellers from the UK isolate for seven days upon arrival in Nigeria.
“However, the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) is in the process of reviewing these requirements. We have been in touch with the UK Government. Just like they stated clearly in their communication, the current listing of countries with approved vaccination certification has just started in the UK. They are reviewing the country’s programs in phases.
“If you go through the list of 50 countries closely, no African country made the list. The UK Government is yet to comprehensively review Nigeria’s vaccination certification program.
“From my communication with the UK Government officials, the vaccines administered in Nigeria are approved by the UK Government. They are also involved with the vaccination program in Nigeria through the Foreign, Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) and they are optimistic that by the time Nigeria’s COVID-19 vaccination program certification is assessed, it will be approved.
“There are many countries in the World, so we, like many other countries, are in the queue for this assessment. Once it gets to our turn, we are more likely than not to get approved in the coming weeks. Like the UK Government have clearly stated, the process of assessment would occur in phases.”
He, however, confirmed that NPHCDA has intensified campaigns for the uptake of the second dose using multiple media strategies, stakeholders, and community engagement, and these have yielded appreciable results.
“However, more work needs to be collectively done to improve vaccine uptake. We would continue to engage with citizens to promote more rapid uptake of the vaccines much as we would continue to count on professional support to see that people are adequately protected against COVID-19,” he added.
Meanwhile, the NPHCDA boss said that plans have been completed to engage private health care facilities in the COVID-19 vaccination exercise to ensure more people are reached with the vaccine without more stress and discomfort.
He said: “In the coming months, Nigeria will receive more doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility. We anticipate that the vaccines would be quite large in amount, and therefore would require more efficient and faster ways of utilizing them including expanding access to the vaccines.
“We have, therefore, started implementing the decentralisation of vaccine utilisation by involving the private sector in the vaccine administration. Currently, COVID-19 vaccines are available at Government health facilities only. As we decentralize, private health facilities that meet the set criteria will be allocated COVID-19 vaccines, after due training of their immunization service providers.
“Vaccinations exercise in a private health facility will continue with the help of Government health officials. Subsequently, clients will be able to access COVID-19 vaccines at both government and private health care facilities in the country. This will be done at different levels which would include the States and Local Governments.
“We are taking every caution to ensure that when implemented, the decentralization policy is not corrupted. Private health care facilities will be carefully selected based on transparent eligibility criteria, and supervision will be maximized to ensure discipline and compliance with safety measures. The goal is to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines and to ensure rapid and safe vaccine utilization.”