Ahead of the expected arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines today, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has commenced online registration of Nigerians interested in taking the jab.
NPHCDA yesterday launched the electronic registration platform to enable eligible Nigerians to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
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 immunisation programme.
The launch of the registration platform came just as the World Health Organisation (WHO) 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 today.
Speaking at the official launch of the T.E.A.C.H strategy for COVID-19 vaccination of eligible Nigerians and Electronic Management of Immunisation Data (EMID) in Abuja, the Executive Director/CEO of the NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said the vaccination process would be in four phases.
According to him, the first group is frontline health workers who are the first priority group of eligible populations to receive the first doses of vaccines arriving in the country.
The second are strategic leaders like the president, vice president, ministers, governors, and religious and traditional leaders.
According to him, the leaders are listed among those to receive the first doses of the vaccines 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, frontline 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.
"Frontline workers include support staff such as cleaners, security staff, body handlers, drivers, waste managers, oil & gas workers, bankers etc.
"Next is phase two, which will comprise older adults aged 50 years and above, and those with co-morbidities 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."
He explained that the e-registration process will make for easy and stress-free registration prior to vaccination.
He added 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 individuals could assess the e-registration portal via the agency's website - https://nphcdaict.com.ng/publicr.eg.
Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, while confirming today's arrival of the vaccines, 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 frontline health care workers, who are providing essential care, especially for severe COVID-19 patients, next to those who are at the highest risk of severe disease from COVID-19 infection and down to 70 per cent of Nigerians.
"Well before the four million doses of AstraZeneca we are going to receive is expended, we shall be receiving more vaccines, and so, there should be no need for anxiety. We shall also, be receiving other types of vaccines and all 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 the WHO, Mr. Walter Kazadi, stated that vaccines alone will not win the war against COVID-19.
He urged Nigerians to comply with the extant non-pharmaceutical interventions of regular hand washing, sanitising, proper use of face masks, avoiding mass gatherings and practising social distancing.