The Federal Government has launched a homegrown Strategy to deliver the COVID-19 vaccination and Electronic Management of Immunisation Data (EMID) System in the country.

It explained that the strategy, known as T. E. A. C. H, is a hybrid of traditional vaccination campaign using micro-plan and electronic registration systems deployed in developed countries.

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who unveiled the strategy in Abuja yesterday, explained that T.E.A.C.H. represented an acronym for a five-point strategy developed by the vaccination implementing arm of the ministry, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPCDA) from its several years of vaccination implementation experience in Nigeria.

He added that the strategy translated as traditional vaccination campaign approach, electronic self-registration by eligible Nigerians, assisted electronic registration of eligible Nigerians, concomitant vaccination alongside electronic registration and house-to-house electronic registration.

He said the introduction of electronic management of immunisation data was critical to addressing challenges of integrity, quality data, as well as primary healthcare data.

The minister, therefore, urged stakeholders, partners, sub-national governments and corporate organisations to have confidence in Federal Government’s plan and align with the initiatives.

He pointed out that no private hospital or organisation has experience in handling the type of vaccine and no experience in vaccine application equivalent to that of NPHCDA.

Ehanire stated that the launching of the new strategy was an important activity to assure Nigerians of government’s readiness to roll out the COVID-19 vaccination campaign successfully.

He noted that immunisation with safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines remained a critical part of the country’s strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and stop transmission of the virus.

ALSO, ahead of today’s expected arrival of 3.92 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine in the country, the Federal Government has raised concerns over illegal COVID-19 vaccine production and warned that fake vaccines were already in illegal market.

Ehanire observed that several research bodies and pharmaceutical industries have responded to the call to develop a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 adding that the efforts had yielded results globally.

Executive Director of NPHCDA, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, said when developed countries began to roll out their COVID-19 vaccination, they experienced some hitches because their systems were not routinised

Shuaib said that the T. E. A. C. H is a unique strategy for Nigeria and indigenous approach to the roll out COVID-19 vaccination, which he said, would be delivered under the supervision of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 (PTF).

He noted that that the agency would leverage the experiences in the polio eradication to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

But some medical experts who spoke to The Guardian were not convinced as they faulted lack of adequate budget to procure COVID-19 vaccines and Federal Government’s dependency on donations to vaccinate citizens. They insisted on local vaccine production to prevent future epidemics and pandemics.

Chairman, Expert Committee on COVID-19, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, said: “There are three categories of countries in the development and specifically on COVID-19 and its vaccines. The first are the proactive countries, which paid for COVID-19 vaccines that were still being developed and untested, and had vaccinated millions of their citizens.

“There are the post-active countries, that waited for donations that were taking too long and made alternative arrangements. These countries are now receiving their vaccines.

“The last group is the inactive countries. They either go on with endless meetings, discussions and plans to buy vaccines, while actually preparing for donations and continually shifting dates of receiving their vaccines.”

President, National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, told The Guardian yesterday that Nigeria was expecting 20 per cent vaccine donation and would have to buy 50 per cent for immunity.

“Nigeria is planning a supplementary budget to cover the cost of vaccines. The Finance Minister said on February 25, 2021 that the cost was not included in the 2021 budget.

“The plan is to vaccinate 40 per cent of 200 million Nigerians this year and later vaccinate 30 per cent in 2022. The first batch of vaccines is expected to arrive the country next week,” he added.