The federal government has said travellers leaving or arriving the country will now mandatorily have to present their yellow card as proof of vaccination before entering or leaving the country.
The implementation of the ‘revised’ policy became effective on Wednesday, March 11, and was also communicated to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for airlines to be informed.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, made this disclosure in Abuja on Friday while giving a national update on the status of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Mr Ehanire said this has become necessary as a step to contain the ongoing transmission of yellow fever in the country.
Mr Ehanire said the position of the ministry is in line with global best practices and WHO recommendations.
“This is also to prevent Nigerians from spreading the yellow fever virus to other countries as there are high risk of transmission of the disease to other parts of the world like the ongoing coronavirus,” he added.
Though the policy of presenting the cards have always been in place, its enforcement has been lax as many travellers are hardly asked to present the cards when leaving or arriving the country.
Mr Ehanire said the new directive is based on concerns if transmission at the point of entries especially across land borders.
The surveillance at the point of entry policy, he said, is for the prevention and control of cross border transmission of yellow fever.
The new directive includes Nigerians (home and abroad) and foreigners living in Nigeria.
He said all nationals of other countries arriving from or haven transited countries with risk of yellow fever, would be required to show a yellow card certificate.
Mr Ehanire said this became necessary “due to ongoing transmission of yellow fever in parts of Nigeria”.
He said it has become pertinent to activate Nigeria’s point of entry policy on prevention and control of cross border transmission of yellow fever in line with WHO recommendation for all international travellers, nine months and older, arriving in areas with evidence of persistent or periodic transmission of yellow fever.
“Nigerians are required to obtain a yellow fever vaccination if they have not done so, and to show their yellow card or proof of vaccination before any international travel and upon arrival.”
Mr Ehanire also added that the ministry of health has also requested NCAA to communicate this to airlines for compliance.
Mr Ehanire explained that the government had ‘wavered’ in the presentation of yellow fever cards or proof of vaccination due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
He, however, said the country will be reverting the policy for the safety of Nigerians and every other nationality.
He said “due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the FMoH had reviewed the policy to allow passengers without yellow cards or proof of vaccinations board their flights to Nigeria, with the understanding that they will be given a yellow fever vaccination, on arrival at our points of entry.”
He said the vaccination is free of charge and the yellow card is at a nominal cost.
“This is in the interest of the health security of the public and all passengers.
Mr Ehanire also said the ministry of health, through Port Health Services has prioritised measures for COVID-19 containment, especially the screening of passengers at Points of Entry.
“However, other surveillance and prevention activities, including the implementation of the policy on prevention and control of cross border transmission of yellow fever, are still very important.”
Electronic Yellow Card
The yellow card is an important document which is given to a person after getting a vaccine against the yellow fever disease.
Henceforth, possession of e-yellow card (through an automated or online process) which replaces the old yellow card will now be a requirement for boarding flight out of the country, the minister said.
The Federal government as of July 1, 2019, had phased off the previous yellow card being issued for a new biometric yellow card.
The electronic yellow card would be issued for people who have been vaccinated and is aimed at stopping the racketeering in fake yellow cards which are issued at point of airports and borders.
The yellow card is also meant to forestall the problems of payment while collecting the card without getting the vaccination.
The holders of the old yellow cards could change it at any port health office, airport, borders or the ministry.
It is also assumed that those with the old card received the jab before acquiring it and as such, they can go to the website, fill in a form through remote and make payment in a bank..
However, it is advisable for people who have the old yellow card but had never received the vaccine, to do so when collecting the new card.
Travellers are to visit www.yellowcardnigeria.com to obtain their yellow card.