The first Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Africa kicked off in Ivory Coast on Monday with the administration of doses from the global vaccine sharing facility, Covax. The country had received 504,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Abidjan last Friday.
The country’s secretary-general at the presidency, Patrick Achi received the first shot as a form of encouragement to other citizens, followed by medical personnel, teachers, and security forces members in the first phase of the campaign targeting 3 percent of the population. After this phase, the government plans to expand access to people over 50 years of age, those with chronic diseases, and travelers.
Vaccination programmes have been slow to get off the ground in Africa, but the start of the Covax initiative has helped facilitate things. Ivory Coast’s neighbour, Ghana, last week became the first country to receive delivery of vaccines from the facility and plans to officially begin its vaccination campaign from Tuesday. The Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo and his wife received the vaccine at a military hospital to boost public confidence ahead of the campaign.
Nigeria is also expected to receive about four million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines on Tuesday through the project, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19, Boss Mustapha said.
A ‘T.E.A.C.H Strategy’ has been formulated to ensure effective roll-out of vaccines when they finally arrive in Nigeria. It is an acronym for a five-point homegrown strategy drafted by the vaccination implementing arm of the Federal Ministry of Health, Health Minister Osagie Ehanire said in Abuja.
“T: Traditional method of vaccinating target populations using desk review of available data sources, identifying the vaccination sites and rolling out; E: Electronic self-registration for health workers and the public; a link which provides an online form will be provided; A: Assisted electronic registration; C: Concomitant e-registration during walk-in to fixed sites/health facilities; H: House-to-House registration using volunteers for additional push to rapidly increase the e-registration.”
Ehanire said the launch of T.E.A.C.H and Electronic Management of Immunisation Data (EMID) will ensure the smooth rollout of the vaccination campaign across the country.
“Our goal is to introduce Covid-19 vaccine in a phased and equitable manner, based on advice of the WHO and the experience we observe other countries to have made, and ultimately vaccinating all eligible Nigerians within the next 2 years, to ensure herd immunity,” he said.
The delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccines is part of an overall 16 million doses planned to be delivered to Nigeria in batches over the next months.
Covax is a World Health Organisation-backed programme set-up to divide about two billion doses of vaccines across 92 low-and middle-income countries by the end of 2021. Meanwhile, some countries such as South Africa and Zimbabwe have already begun independent vaccination programmes.
Africa has reported relatively fewer deaths from coronavirus compared to other continents with a total of 104,012 fatalities. South Africa tops the chart with 50,077 deaths as of press time.