As Nigeria receives its first batch of 3.92 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday, the federal government has said it would adopt the strategy deployed during the polio pandemic in the country in vaccinating eligible citizens.
To this end, the government, Monday, launched the intended platform for the vaccination of people against the virus.
Under the traditional vaccination, approach tagged: “TEACH”, an acronym for a 5-point strategy for vaccination developed by the vaccination implementing wing of the Federal Ministry of Health, people would have the opportunity of undertaking electronic self-registration for vaccination.
The T.E.A.C.H strategy is said to combine both traditional approaches with modern technologically enabled systems of vaccination.
Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, while launching the platform, expressed optimism that with the expected delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines, Nigeria would be able to stamp out the dreaded disease.
The minister explained that TEACH stands for 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.
He expressed hope that with the experience garnered by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, during vaccination and subsequently eradication of polio in the country, the agency would record another feat in its handling of COVID-19.
Ehanire reminded that “In less than 24 hours, the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive in Nigeria from the COVAX Facility”, saying “and will be deployed to vaccinate, first our critical frontline health care workers, who are providing essential care especially for severe COVID-19 patients, next to those who are the 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.
“All countries are following this guideline and other global guidelines, as Nigeria will too. This is made more important by the fact that the target population for this vaccination, as we must remember, is not the usual cohort of children that Nigeria is used to, but this time, adults.
“I urge all eligible Nigerians to take the COVID-19 vaccination when it is their turn. This is the only way we can achieve herd immunity to stop the community transmission of this deadly virus,” he added.
He warned Nigerians against anxiety in vaccination, explaining that “before the four 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.”
Tasking people with questions to direct them to the Ministry of Health and NPCDA”, the minister advised that “this is not a time to work at cross purposes; it is not a time to be making private arrangements for vaccine procurement and administration.”
According to him, “Vaccines that are not approved by NAFDAC will be determined as dangerous and will be seized by Customs Services and NAFDAC, who are on high alert for illegal vaccine importation. Fake vaccines already abound in the illegal market.”
Speaking earlier at the event, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, reiterated that “the vaccination process will be in four phases with frontline health workers being the priority group of eligible populations to receive the first doses of vaccines.
The NPHCDA boss also said critical stakeholders among which are the President, Vice President, Ministers, Governors and religious and traditional leaders will be first to receive the first doses of the vaccines, explaining that the reason was for them to prove to the general public that the vaccines are safe and effective as approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC.
The next phase he said, “will comprise older adults aged 50 years and above, and those with comorbidities aged 18 – 49 years of age.”
On his part, the Country Representative of WHO, Walter Kazadi, while speaking, thanked the federal administration for the war it has so far waged against the pandemic.