The last time I checked, COVID-19 vaccination is only capable of reducing a person’s risk of contracting the virus. It cannot totally bar the virus. In practical terms, so many fully vaccinated people still contract the virus daily. Also, the vaccination can only reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death from the virus. It’s incapable of fully preventing hospitalisation and death. Sadly, every day, fully vaccinated people die all over the world from COVID-19. The latest fully vaccinated Nigerian to contract COVID-19 and die is lawyer Ladi Williams.
The long and the short of my Epistle is that there is still no vaccine capable of fully tackling COVID-19. It is still work in progress. All the existing ones are performing below expectations; so, why the moves to make vaccination mandatory in Nigeria? I was startled when the federal government announced last Wednesday that all its workers would be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination with effect from December 1, 2021. Of course, they also said, alternatively, public servants will have to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours, to gain access to their offices. The first part talking about compulsory COVID-19 vaccination is an aberration.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation/Chairman Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, who unveiled the policy at the PSC briefing, and his team, need to go back for more consultation. Has the FG done an impact analysis of making COVID-19 vaccinationmandatory? Nothing has been done in this direction. Will the government be responsible for any adverse effect on citizens? Boss did not say anything about this. Even in the United Kingdom, a COVID-19 epicentre, vaccination is mandatory for only those working in care homes.
What the Nigerian government wants to do is similar to what the Biden government is doing in the United States, where it is mandatory forfederal employees, contractors that work with the government andhealth-care workers at facilities that receive federal funding, to take the jab. A lot of court cases have cropped against it. Of course, millions of other American workers still have the option of proving they are not carrying the virus by submitting to weekly COVID-19 tests.
I say no to vaccine mandates for Nigerian federal workers. Regular COVID tests for workers who cite religious or health reasons for not getting vaccinated should be the focus for all governments. Those unconvinced about the usefulness of the vaccine must also be respected. Concerns about the safety of the vaccine are still very much there. We don’t even know the future implications for those that have taken the jabs. Those against being used as human guinea pigs should be left alone.
We must all rise against coercion in the drive to get more people to take the suspicious COVID-19 vaccine. I expect our human rights lawyers to drag the federal government to court immediately. If we don’t move very fast against them, the option of test results might also be removed.
Few weeks back, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State tried something similar to what the federal government is trying to do, but was immediately resisted by the people. Obaseki ordered that unvaccinated persons be prevented from accessing government offices, mass gathering and public places. “Anyone who has not been vaccinated will not be allowed into public places such as banks and worship centres. From the second week of September, people may not be allowed to worship in churches and mosques without showing proof of their vaccination cards at the gates,” said the governor. What nonsense! Some people went to court and got a restraining order from the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt. I expect same for this latest COVID-19 policy of the Nigerian government.