By Ali Jabir
ISLAMABAD, Feb 13 (APP):The unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic had gripped almost the entire world, including the developed and developing countries alike.
Almost every country including Pakistan bore the brunt of this pandemic and tried to cope with the challenge. Pakistan through a highly integrated, unique and effective strategy, effectively coped with the first and second wave of the contagion. Timely measures not only prevented the disease spread successfully but also obtained effective vaccines in a very short period of time.
Prime Minister Imran Khan besides establishing National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) to fight the pandemic but also adopted a strategy to keep the employment and economy going uninterrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Enjoying full support of all stakeholders including civil and military leadership, federal health ministry and the provincial governments had strenuously went through the journey of unanimous decision making through detailed and painstaking deliberations, consultations and experts recommendations to entered the important stage of vaccination.
In this regard, it has succeeded in obtaining 4 out of 8 most effective vaccines in the world whereas the COVID-19 cure will arrive in Pakistan in different phases during the ongoing year.
China as a trusted and time tested friend of Pakistan is the only country to donate 500,000 doses of Coronavirus vaccine to Pakistan. The process of administering the donated vaccine under National Vaccine Strategy was simultaneously launched in all federating units by the Chief Ministers of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir.
The 20 million doses of the Chinese vaccines SinoPharm and Cansino Bio will reach Pakistan in different phases this year where according to trial three tests’ results the efficacy of the vaccine was recorded 86 percent. However, in order to preserve the SinoPharm vaccine developed by China’s state-owned pharmaceutical company requires a temperature of two to eight degrees Celsius.
Prime Minister Imran Khan officially launched the National Covid vaccination campaign in the country urging equitable and just distribution of Coronavirus vaccine among the provinces. “It is very important for health workers to be vaccinated as the biggest threat during the contagion,” the Prime Minister directed.
Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, said the NCOC has an important role in procuring the vaccine and hoped that the Pakistani nation under the leadership of the Chief Ministers would reap full benefits of this vaccine. “Our real heroes in the fight against Coronavirus are the frontline health workers who have made so many sacrifices to serve the nation during unusual times of the contagion,” he said.
Asad Umar who is also chairman of the NCOC announced that registration for covid vaccination for 65 years old citizens and above would be initiated by the next week. The vaccination of those who register in this category would start in the month of March.
Meanwhile, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Chinese government donated vaccine to Pakistan’s armed forces which was the first such donation by the Chinese military to any foreign military around the world.
According to Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the Pakistan Army in keeping with the tradition of “Nation First” has decided to donate the vaccine donation to FLHCWs across the country.
Under the National Vaccination Strategy, health workers will be vaccinated in the first phase, people aged 60 and above in second and those from 18 to 60 years in the third phase.
The authorities have also decided that people under the age of 18 year will not be vaccinated. The NCOC has developed an online portal called National Immunization Management System (NIMS) to monitor the registration and administration of the coronavirus vaccine to FLHCWs.
So far, 511,000 medical personnel have been registered under the National Immunization Management System (NIMS) which is a computerized integrated system for registration. The FLHCWs can check their eligibility by sending their CNIC number to 1166 or visit nims.nadra.gov.pk website.
In the first step a confirmation message containing Adult Vaccine Center (AVC) and a pin code will be sent whereas in the second step the FLHCW will be informed about his appointment for vaccination at the designated AVC.
In the third step, they will visit the AVC along with CNIC and pin code, the health staff at the AVC will confirm their appointment. In the next step, the vaccination staff will confirm vaccine entry in NIMS and confirmation SMS will be sent. Finally, the FLHCW will have to stay for 30 minutes for monitoring after vaccination at the AVC. Moreover, in case of double shot vaccine the message will be sent after seven days. All those who want to register themselves for Covid Vaccine have to follow this procedure.
In case, any one cannot get to the designated vaccine center, he or she can call 1166 or visit physically or the NIMS website, to change his or her center. Citizens have to go to the vaccination center allotted to them on the specified date and time. At the information counters at all vaccination centers the names, ages and temperatures of all the people coming for the vaccine will be recorded.
According to Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM), Dr. Faisal Sultan out of Pakistan’s total population of 220 million, only 100 million people would be vaccinated. “The vaccine is being used successfully in China, Hungary, the UAE and other countries.
Vaccine can be effective up to 86 percent where efforts are being made to make it available to 70 percent of the population by the end of the year. The vaccine can cause fever or mild pain for a day,” he said.
“Vaccine centers have been set up across Pakistan with the capacity to vaccinate 40,000 people daily and will be enhanced over the passage of time,” he added.
It merits mention that 20 million doses of AstraZenica from the Global Vaccine Alliance International (GAVI), 30 million doses of Covax from the World Health Organization, 20 to 30 million doses from another Chinese company (Cansino) would be received whereas among these Russian origin vaccine Sputnik has been approved for emergency use in the country.
Dr. Faisal Sultan added that vaccination of COVID-19 would be voluntary and no one would be forced to take the vaccine. The corona vaccine will be available free of charge in all government hospitals, while emergency use of the vaccine has been introduced for FLHCWs and senior citizens.
“The coronavirus vaccine will be given once and a special card will be issued by the government as a proof. Those vaccinated would be able to use this card anywhere in the world,” he informed.
The NCOC has set up a National Vaccine Administration and Coordination Cell (NVACC) at the federal level and Provincial Vaccine Administration and Coordination Cell Provincial centers (PVACC) at the four provinces and AJK and GB to effectively monitor the vaccination process.
The District Vaccine Administration and Coordination Cell will be attached to the PVACC to monitor the process at district level.
Iram Naveed, the focal person for vaccination at PIMS Hospital said they had prepared the lists of doctors, paramedical and support staff (ward boys, sanitary workers, security guards) and sent to the district administration. “Around 2000 PIMS healthcare workers were directly involved in treatment of Covid patients and they would be vaccinated on priority.”
Since the pandemic broke out the government and the NCOC had been toiling hard to fight out the pandemic and with adoption of prudent policies and their execution, the country remained safe of the disastrous impacts like many other countries where the figure had reached to hundreds and thousands deceased. Hats off to medical practitioners who relentlessly worked for treatment of the Covid-19 patients’ saving them from devastating effects of the pandemic and secured country from its massive spread.