By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The federal government Monday launched the electronic registration platform to enable eligible Nigerians get vaccinated against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
The government said it is employing a T.E.A.C.H strategy, which combines indigenous (traditional) approaches with modern technologically-enabled systems of vaccination, and leverage experiences gained during the polio immunization programmes.
The launching of the registration platform came just as the World Health Organization (WHO) has advised all countries to limit vaccination for now to persons above 18 years, until research and studies are completed on any possible effect on growing children.
Nigeria is set to receive its first batch of 3.92 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday.
Speaking at the official launch of the T.E.A.C.H strategy for Covid-19 vaccination of eligible Nigerians and Electronic Management of Immunization Data (EMID) in Abuja, the Executive Director/CEO of the NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said the vaccination process will be in four phases.
The first group is front line health workers who are the first priority group of eligible populations to receive the first doses of vaccines arriving the country.
The second are strategic leaders like the president, vice-president, ministers, governors, religious and traditional leaders.
Shuaib said that the essence of putting the leaders among those to receive the first doses of the vaccines is in order to show to the public that the vaccines are safe and effective as validated by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
He said: “In phase one, healthcare workers, front line workers, ports of entry (air, land, and sea ports), military, Covid-19 rapid response team (RRT), laboratory network, policemen and petrol station workers and strategic leaders will be vaccinated first. Front line workers include support staff such as cleaners, security staff, body handlers, drivers, waste managers, oil & gas workers, bankers etc.
“Next is the phase two, which will comprise older adults aged 50 years and above, and those with comorbidities aged 18 – 49 years of age. Phase three includes those in states/LGAs with high disease burden and who missed phases one and two, and phase four includes other eligible populations as vaccines become available.”
The NPHCDA boss explained that the e-registration process will make for easy and stress-free registration prior to vaccination.
He noted that once an individual completes registration, a unique pre-vaccination identifier will be issued via the website, with which he or she will take to the vaccination site for proper identification before getting vaccinated.
He advised Nigerians to choose a health facility that is closest to them to get vaccinated.
Shuaib said that individuals can access the e-registration portal via the Agency’s website – https://nphcdaict.com.ng/publicr.eg.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, explained that “T.E.A.C.H. is an acronym for a five-point strategy developed by the vaccination implementing arm of the Federal Ministry of Health, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPCDA), out of its many years of vaccination implementation experience in Nigeria.
According to him, TEACH translates to: T: Traditional Vaccination Campaign Approach; E: Electronic Self-Registration by Eligible Nigerians; A: Assisted Electronic Registration of Eligible Nigerians; C: Concomitant Vaccination alongside Electronic Registration and H: House-to-House Electronic Registration.
Confirming Tuesday’s arrival of the vaccines, Ehanire said: “In less than 24 hours, the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive in Nigeria from the COVAX Facility and will be deployed to vaccinate, first our critical front line health care workers, who are providing essential care especially for severe COVID-19 patients, next to those who are highest risk of severe disease from Covid-19 infection and down to 70 per cent of Nigerians.
“The World Health Organization has advised all countries to limit vaccination for now to persons above 18 years, until research and studies are completed on any possible effect on growing children or 18 years and below, except they have severe underlying illnesses where the benefits justify the risk.
“Well before the 4 million doses of AstraZeneca we are going to receive is expended, we shall be receiving more vaccines, so there should be no need for anxiety. We shall also be receiving other types of vaccines and all these will ensure that the entire vaccination administration will be sustained in a smooth way and will be applied nationwide – leaving no one behind.”
The Country Representative of WHO, Walter Kazadi, stressed that vaccines alone will not win the war against Covid-19.
He urged every Nigerian to comply with the extant non-pharmaceutical interventions of regular hand washing, sanitizing, proper use of masks, avoiding mass gatherings and practising social distancing.