COVID-19 vaccine: Nigerians risk global travel ban, Senate warns, NMA allays fears

The Senatehas warned that other countries could impose travel ban on Nigerians, if the Federal Government failed to administer COVID-19 vaccines to its citizens.

The warning was contained in a motion moved at plenary by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, who said COVID-19 vaccines promised the country by Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative would not be enough.

The motion, which was adopted by the Senate, was titled, ‘urgent need for Nigeria to obtain and administer COVlD-19 vaccines to its citizens.’

Recall that the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative has promised to provide 20 per cent of the country’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

But in his motion, Oloriegbe lamented that apart from the pledge by the global organisation, Nigeria had not produced a plan for the procurement, distribution and administration of the vaccines to Nigerians

He, therefore, said to avoid a global travel ban on Nigerians, the Federal Government should make budgetary provision to procure and administer COVID-19 vaccines.

The Senator also expressed concern that compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures such hand washing, wearing of face masks and social distancing had diminished.

Oloriegbe stated that while some countries had approved vaccines for COVID-19 and were administering the vaccine to their citizens, many others had completed plans on the procurement, distribution and administration of the vaccines to their citizens.

He said Nigeria had no plan for the procurement, distribution and administration of the vaccine.

According to him, the only plan on COVID-19 vaccine for Nigeria is the pledge by Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative.

He said that despite the change in the epidemiology trends of the disease, the financial plan developed by the country and World Bank in April 2020 to fund the response to the pandemic was still being implemented without taking due cognizance to the changes by re-allocating the funds to vaccine procurement.

From his motion, Senate also resolved to direct its committees on Health and Primary Health Care to invite the Federal Ministry of Health, the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the National Agency for Food and Drugs, NCDC, Federal Ministry of Finance and other relevant government agency to present details of protocol, funding, procurement, administration and monitoring of Covid-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

The committees are to report back to the Senate in two weeks.

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