FG Raises Alarm Over Procurement Of Fake COVID-19 Vaccination Cards - THE ENCOUNTER NEWS


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

FG Raises Alarm Over Procurement Of Fake COVID-19 Vaccination Cards

ABUJA - The federal government yesterday raised alarm over the attitude of some Nigerians who illegally procure COVID-19 vaccination cards without being vaccinated against the virus.

It condemned the unholy sharp practices and threatened to investigate the action and prosecute the offenders.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Faisal Shuaib, at the Weekly Media Briefing on COVID-19 Vaccnaton Rollout in Abuja yesterday, expressed worry that some indulge in such illegal and criminal acts despite the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine free of charge.

He said: “With the increase in COVID-19 vaccination mandates globally, it has come to the notice of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the Federal Ministry of Health, that attempts are being made by unscrupulous persons to procure the COVID-19 vaccination cards, without receiving the COVID-19 vaccines.

“NPHCDA and the Presidential Steering Committee strongly condemn these fraudulent attempts and are urging those attempting such acts to desist henceforth.

“The ongoing COVID-19 vaccination and the vaccination cards are free of charge at all designated COVID-19 vaccination sites across the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT.

"Possession of vaccination cards without receiving the vaccines is criminal and punishable by law. The NPHCDA is collaborating with the State Security Services (SSS), ICPC, and other law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute any persons and their accomplices attempting to fraudulently acquire COVID-19 vaccination cards without getting vaccinated.

“Our colleague from the FCT team, the Executive Secretary of the Primary Healthcare Development Board is here to provide detailed updates on the case of a criminal attempt to illegally procure a vaccination card that is being investigated. The individual, in this case, is not a staff of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency but a staff of the FCT State Primary Healthcare Development Board.

"The NPHCDA enjoins the general public to immediately report any suspected cases of buying and selling of COVID-19 vaccination cards without receiving the vaccines to the nearest law enforcement agency or NPHCDA.

Meanwhile, the Federal government has announced that it has vaccinated over 4 million Nigerians with the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country.

“With your continued support through effective dissemination of information around COVID-19 vaccination, I am glad to inform you that as of yesterday, 20th September 2021, a total of 4,487,367 eligible persons have received their 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

“This is made up of 2,863,422 persons who have taken the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine and 1,623,945 persons who have taken the first dose of Moderna vaccine. So far, 1,783,676 eligible persons have been fully vaccinated, of which 1,781,840 is with the AstraZeneca vaccine, while 1,836 persons have had the Moderna vaccine.

“As you may be aware, the UK Government released a new travel advisory which would take effect from Monday, October 4th, 2021. There have been concerns by Nigerians on how this would affect us. We would like to clarify that the guidance provided by the UK Government is that they would want to simplify the classification of countries from green, amber, and red to just red and green lists. Therefore, countries that are currently on the amber list may fall into either of these two categories.

“We have had preliminary discussions with officials of the UK Government. Without prejudice to the information yet to be released, we have been assured that Nigeria will maintain the status quo. That is to say, Nigeria will not be on the red list. The UK Government has also stated that they have no issues with the vaccines used in Nigeria. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, also known as COVISHIELD that is used in Nigeria was approved by the UK regulatory body (MHRA), other stringent regulatory authorities, and the World Health Organization. So, the UK Government does recognize the vaccines used in Nigeria. The UK is doing a phased approach to deal with the high demand and volume of people arriving in their Country. It is important to stress that this phased approach is still under review by their Government and they would be providing updates regularly. For Nigeria at the moment, there is no change in the guidelines for entry of Nigerians into the UK. A UK citizen on entry into Nigeria regardless of the vaccination status, is made to do a PCR test and isolated for 7 days and the same applies for Nigerians entering the UK, you are also required to do a PCR test and isolate for a few days.

“This is called the principle of reciprocity in the diplomatic circles. From our usual updates to the Press and Nigerians, Citizens are aware that the vaccines used in Nigeria are donations from the UK Government, the Canadian Government, and the United States through the COVAX facility. We would also like Nigerians to note, that the number of people immunized is one of the factors that most countries assess when making travel restrictions.

"This is why we would continue to encourage all eligible Nigerians to visit the nearest designated health facility to get vaccinated. We are beginning to see not just the UK Government but other developed.

“Countries also instituting more stringent COVID-19 guidelines for travel and public spaces. As the pandemic evolves, we may get to a point where Countries would not allow the entry of unvaccinated individuals.

” There have also been questions raised about how much protection a vaccinated person has against the COVID-19 virus when he contracts it. Although this has been explained in a previous press briefing, I would like to further simplify it for those who still do not understand the importance of vaccination and its protection against the virus. If a vaccinated individual encounters someone who is COVID-19 positive and contracts the virus, it enters through the nose, mouth, or eyes, The spike protein on the virus will try to find a gateway on your cells to bind to, enter the cells, and start replicating. However, if you are a vaccinated person, you will have antibodies or soldiers that will bind to the virus.

“These antibodies would effectively neutralize the virus and stop them from entering the cells. If you are exposed to a very high viral load of COVID-19 let us say the antibodies generated by vaccination can neutralize about 80% of the virus that enters your system, which leaves only 20% of the virus particle to enter your cells and start replicating and infecting other cells.

“This means that the amount of effective virus that this individual is being infected with is much less than what he/she was initially exposed to. A few days later after exposure, the individual’s adaptive immune system which is made up of B cells and T cells will kick in and the B cells would make more antibodies while the T cells will look for the infected cells and kill them. What this means clinically, is that the symptom burden of a vaccinated individual is much less, the duration of symptoms would be much shorter and the vaccinated individual’s body can clear the virus much faster, and therefore it would not progress to severe illness, hospitalization or death. Also, worthy of note is that in vaccinated individuals whose immune system is suppressed due to other pre-existing medical conditions, their immune response may not be as fast as a vaccinated individual whose immune system is stable, but still, vaccination gives them a higher chance of survival compared to if they were unvaccinated.

“On the other hand, if one chooses to remain unvaccinated, what happens is that when one gets exposed to the virus, one will not have any circulating antibodies or soldiers waiting to help you neutralize the virus upon exposure. This means one would have worse symptoms and a longer duration of illnesses because there would be no pre-existing B or T cell memory that the vaccine offers, so it would take several more days for one’s adaptive immune response to start. This time interval gives the virus more opportunities to infect the cells replicate and cause a more severe outcome.

“A lot of unvaccinated middle-aged people say that they trust that their immune system would know what to do when they get exposed to the virus, what they need to understand is that their immune system is not only going to be battling with this virus but there are also several other infectious diseases that our immune system battles with every day. So, getting vaccinated is a proactive way to give your immune system a head start in this battle against COVID-19. We do not want a situation in which our immune system gets overburdened and is not able to produce enough B and T cells in time to kill the virus.

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