Covid-19 Vaccination: Is Vaccination Obligatory for Healthcare Workers in Nigeria
The COVID-19 disease is presently being combated with Vaccines in most jurisdictions, and the management of the disease has moved, to a large extent, from not just patient care, but to prevention through vaccination.
An important consideration is the right to decline treatment by way of vaccination particularly for healthcare workers, in view of the provisions of the National Health Act which mandates health care institutions to take every caution to prevent to transmission of diseases within their health care facility. This article seeks to shed light on the position of the liability of healthcare institutions in this regard and whether healthcare workers can be mandated to take the COVID-19 vaccination in the effort to comply with the provisions of the National Health Act.
Relevant Laws and Practices
There is presently no regulation or law that particularly requires any person to take the COVID-19 vaccination. In the circumstance, vaccination would appear optional. Indeed, there is a constitutional right to accept or decline consent to medical treatment (See the case of MEDICAL AND DENTAL PRACTITIONERS DISCIPLINARY TRIBUNAL V. OKONKWO1), thus an healthcare worker in a healthcare institution, has a legal right to decline vaccination for COVID-19, if he so wishes, in view of the above-mentioned general principles.
Despite these principles, the healthcare worker’s personal rights must be weighed against International Best practices in Labour matters, which has been given statutory recognition in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).