Six states oppose Federal Government Enforcement plans for covid-19 vaccination
Some states have stated that they will not force anyone to take the Covid-19 vaccine, despite the Federal Government’s worry over many Nigerians’ unwillingness to take the vaccine and its determination to impose sanctions on anyone who refuse the vaccination once it is made available to everybody.
Enugu, Taraba, Cross River, Ogun, Bauchi, and Abia are among the states that have declared they will continue to appeal to their populations to get the vaccine rather than imposing punitive measures.
Concerned about the low vaccination rate across the country and the deadly nature of the Delta variant now circulating, the Federal Government announced that it was looking into ways to make vaccines more accessible to all Nigerians, and that it would not hesitate to “apply the basic rule of law” against those who refused the vaccine because they would be endangering the lives of others.
The Executive Director, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, on August 31, said, “The Presidential Steering Committee and the Federal Ministry of Health are exploring ways of making vaccines more available to all Nigerians, including federal civil servants and corporate entities.
“Once these vaccines are made equitably available to all Nigerians, then we will 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.”
Meanwhile, the six states have ruled against such action, stating that they will continue to appeal to their citizens.
In an interview with journalists, Mr Chidi Aroh, the Commissioner for Information and spokesman for the state Action Committee on Covid-19, said that the state would safeguard the fundamental rights of every residents of the state.
He added, “I know that in Enugu State, we encourage people to take vaccine but rest assured that in encouraging people to take vaccine, Enugu is a state that is guided by the law. We are going to respect the fundamental rights of everybody as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“So, in all we do, we will be guided by the process of the law and the administration will do everything within the extant laws. However, we say that it is proper for people to go and get vaccinated but we will not do what is illegal to get people vaccinated.”
In an interview with media in Jalingo, the state capital, Taraba State Commissioner for Health and Chairman of the state task group on COVID-19, Dr Innocent Vakkai, urged locals to get the vaccine to prevent the virus from spreading.
Vakkai said, “Though Edo State has made vaccination cards compulsory for entry into public places, for us in Taraba, we are appealing to residents to come out and get vaccinated. We received 60,000 doses of Moderna vaccine last week and I want to appeal to residents to come out and get vaccinated to avoid the spread of the virus.”
The Commissioner for Health of Cross River State, Dr Betta Edu, stated that citizens were already receiving the vaccine and that there was no need to force them to do so.
Edu said, “We have asked people to take the vaccine and Cross Riverians are taking it. In the first phase, Cross River was the highest for covering the target population. We had over 117 per cent. We even exhausted our vaccine and could not get the vaccine to give people the second dose for eight weeks.
“So, there is no need to force them. As we speak now, over 60,000 Cross Riverians have taken the new vaccine brought to us and more are still taking it. In fact, we will soon exhaust what we have and we will need more. So, making it compulsory is not necessary.”
In an interview on Friday, the Commissioner for Health in Ogun State, Dr Tomi Coker, ruled out the idea of prohibiting anyone who had not been vaccinated from using the state’s facilities.
Coker said, “Ogun State has experienced cooperation from residents who have engaged the vaccination campaign wholeheartedly. We are vaccinating over 7,000 individuals daily, so the situation in Ogun State does not require such restrictions.
“What I would like to encourage people to do is to wear their masks properly in public as this is still the most effective way of curtailing the spread of the virus while we continue the vaccination campaign which is planned to continue until the fourth quarter of next year.”
Dr Chinagorom Adindu, the Executive Director of Abia State’s Primary Healthcare Agency, stated the citizens of the state would accept it because an information effort was underway.
He said, “At the moment, we have not considered that. Abians are highly literate and are willingly taking it. However, the state government has embarked on mass enlightenment to convince more residents to take the vaccine.”
In Bauchi State, Dr Rilwan Mohammed, the Executive Chairman of the state Primary Health Care Development Agency, stated the state had no plans to bar anyone who had not been vaccinated from using public services.
Mohammed, who is the Chairman of Contact and Surveillance Sub-Committee of the Task Force on COVID-19 in the state, was quoted as saying: “There is no plan on that; we have yet to discuss that at the committee level.
“My Chairman is the deputy governor and he has not said anything on that and we have not discussed it.”