Reps panel tweaks NCDC power to order compulsory vaccination

A committee of the House of Representatives set up to consider the amendment of the Quarantine Act has deleted 447 provisions including a section of the bill that empowered the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to order certain persons to compulsorily take vaccines.

The proposed law, ‘A Bill for an Act to repeal the Quarantine Act, and enact the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill Make Provisions Relating to Quarantine and Make Regulations for Preventing the Introduction Into and Spread in Nigeria of Dangerous Infectious Diseases, and for Other Related Matters’ was sponsored by the Speaker of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila.

The bill, which was challenged by many prominent Nigerians, including a former lawmaker, Senator Dino Melaye, had passed second reading at the House and was referred to a committee for recommendations.

A copy of the recommendation, which was obtained on Wednesday, showed that Section 47 of the bill, which had to do with vaccination, had been amended, while some subsections had been deleted.

For instance, Section 47(1) previously read, “In an outbreak or a suspected outbreak of any infectious disease in any area in Nigeria, the director general may by order direct any person or class of persons not protected or vaccinated against the disease to undergo vaccination or other prophylaxis within such period as may be specified in the order.”

However, the new provision now reads, “In an outbreak or a suspected outbreak of a declared infections disease, the task force in collaboration with National Primary Health Care Development Agency, shall make arrangement for the provision of vaccines and vaccination facilities for boosting of vaccination of at-risk persons against the declared infectious disease where there already exist vaccines for it.”

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Also, Section 47(2)(b)(c) which gave the DG of the NCDC the power to “direct any person or class of persons not protected or vaccinated against that infectious disease to undergo vaccination or other prophylaxis within such period as may be specified in the order”, has been deleted completely from the bill.

Also deleted were provisions that empowered health workers investigating a disease to go into any premises even without a warrant and seize any object and conduct searches.

The report is expected to be presented to the House for consideration.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, had said taking of COVID-19 vaccines would not be made compulsory.

The Federal Government had, however, stated that taking vaccines might soon become a precondition for international travel.

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