Following the enforcement of the vaccine mandate for Federal Government workers, yesterday, civil servants in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) thronged the various vaccination sites to receive their first jab of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 had announced that starting from December 1, all employees of the Federal Government would be required to show evidence of being vaccinated or present a negative PCR result done within 72 hours before being allowed into their offices.
When The Guardian visited the vaccination centre at the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, many civil servants and non-civil servants alike were seen waiting on line to take the jab.
The situation was the same at the vaccination site located at the Federal Secretariat, where many civil servants were seen struggling to take the jab to enable them into the secretariat premises.
It was also a mad rush for the vaccination across Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in the capital city. A nurse in the PHC located at Kuchingoro, suburban settlement in the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), said the overwhelming crowd was due to the vaccine mandate, which came into effect yesterday.
She said: “A lot of falsehood is being propagated about the vaccine and this has discouraged many from taking it but thanks to the Federal Government’s deadline issued to workers, even non-government workers have turned out in large numbers to get vaccinated against the virus.”
Federal workers in Abuja, who were yet to be vaccinated were yesterday denied access to their offices by security operatives. Many of them who reported as early as 8:30a.m. at their work places were asked to show their COVID-19 vaccine cards as proof before gaining entrance into their offices.
Recall that the Federal Government had on March 4, this year, extended its work-from-home directive for some cadre of officers due to the surge in the third wave of the pandemic.
HOWEVER, The Guardian gathered that civil servants without proof of COVID-19 vaccination were later allowed into their offices at the federal secretariat, after they were initially barred by security operatives.
This was due to the throng of workers waiting outside to gain entry into their offices. Those who were yet to be vaccinated were told that they would be stopped from accessing their offices from Thursday (today).
A civil servant at the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) said all workers were allowed into their offices. “Everyone was allowed into their offices, even those not wearing facemasks,” he said.
As officials promise to fully implement the vaccine mandate today, majority of civil servants who spoke to The Guardian yesterday pleaded with government to extend the vaccination period to enable them go for it.
Also, the Association of Senior Civil Service of Nigeria (ASCSN) has urged the Federal Government to extend the lockout of unvaccinated workers from their offices till April 2022.
National President of the association, Dr Tommy Okon, who stated this in Abuja, yesterday, explained that the December 1 date was too short and could be counterproductive.
His words: “I think it is too early to ban unvaccinated workers from entering their offices. In as much as we agree that workers should be vaccinated because of the risks the virus poses to the whole of humanity, the approach government has adopted is also not the best.
“The Federal Government should give more time for workers to get the first and second doses. I think giving more time is the way to go. To say that workers cannot enter their offices until they show evidence of taking the jab will not help the situation.”
He hinted that the labour movement has been up and doing enlightening their members on the importance of taking the jab. Okon argued that the directive to workers from level one to 12 to resume on December 6, validates the call for an extension.