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FG moves to dismiss, try COVID-19 vaccination card racketeers.

The Federal Government is to dismiss and prosecute any health worker culpable of COVID-19 vaccination card sale.

Following allegations that some persons were pressuring the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to unduly get the travel clearance, the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) has struck a collaboration with the Department of Security Services (DSS), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that criminals face justice.

Executive Director/ Chief Executive Officer of NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, who stated this at the weekly COVID-19 vaccination update yesterday in Abuja, added that it was “criminal for any person to procure a vaccination card without being vaccinated.”

He observed that with the increase in COVID-19 vaccination mandates globally, it has come to the notice of the agency that attempts were being made by “unscrupulous persons to procure vaccination cards without receiving the COVID-19 vaccines.”

Shuaib stated that the agency had established a task force to key into the collaboration that exists with the sub-national level to randomly investigate potential areas for proactiveness.

The NPHCDA boss revealed that the agency was deploying data to check the exactness of cards to states and health facilities in addition to doses of vaccines for accountability.

He said: “The DSS and the ICPC are involved and once the individuals, who are involved in this vaccination racketeering are charged to court, the public service rules will follow and that can lead to potential suspension or firing of the health workers involved, but beyond the health workers, those individuals who are also promoting or trying to access cards illegally will also be prosecuted.”

Shuaib continued: “Those who want to sell and those who want to buy will jointly be prosecuted and we are taking this seriously because the activities of these few individuals can bring to disrepute the integrity of the whole vaccination process in Nigeria. We are keeping a close watch to ensure that this kind of activity did not happen. We will name and shame all individuals involved in it, including those trying to procure the cards. The secrete service will be on the lookout for these types of individuals and they will be apprehended and prosecuted.”

Also speaking, World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, submitted that people, who are fully vaccinated or those previously infected, could still be re-infected and transmit the virus, as evidence “shows that this risk is substantially lowered. So, they present a lower risk to others in the country.”