The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Wednesday outlined the country's vaccination strategy against Covid-19, revealing an eight-step process for registration and vaccination once the vaccines become available while also deciding that all educational institutions would reopen as per schedule.
The strategy was developed after consultation with all provinces and relevant stakeholders and was according to established international health guidelines, the NCOC said in a statement.
"The purpose of the strategy is to vaccinate people in a healthy environment and in accordance with health guidelines through a concrete plan."
The forum said that an online portal — National Immunisation Management System (NIMS) — has been created which will be operated by the NCOC. Human interaction within the portal will be minimised to keep the system transparent, it added.
In addition to NIMS, numerous Adult Vaccine Centres (AVC) have been established across the country which will be run by the National Vaccination and Administration Control Cell (NVACC). Coordination cells have also been established at provincial and district levels, the NCOC statement said.
The NCOC revealed an eight-step registration process for citizens which is as follows:
Reopening educational institutions
The NCOC meeting today, which was chaired by Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar with National Coordinator NCOC Lieutenant General Hamooduz Zaman Khan, also reviewed the coronavirus situation and reopening of educational institutions.
Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho and chief secretaries of all provinces also participated in the meeting.
The NCOC decided that all universities and primary and middle schools across the country will reopen on February 1 as per schedule. Students in four big cities — Karachi, Hyderabad, Lahore and Peshawar — would attend educational institutions on alternate days, maintaining a daily strength of 50 per cent of total students.
Last week, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced that China has promised to provide 500,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine to Pakistan by January 31.
Qureshi said he informed his Chinese counterpart that Pakistan's requirement for vaccines is "more than this", and that it will need 1.1 million doses in the near future.
"At this, [the Chinese foreign minister] said 'we plan to fulfil this requirement of yours as well by the end of February and the 1.1m doses will be made available to you,'" he revealed in the video message.
Meanwhile, availability of free-of-cost Covid-19 vaccine seems to have been assured for Pakistan as Covax announced earlier this month that it will acquire 150 million doses in the first quarter and two billion doses by the end of the year.
It further said that, out of the two billion doses, 1.3bn will be provided to 92 lower-income economies. As a result of this agreement, the chances of Pakistan getting the free doses in the first quarter of the current year seem to have brightened.
Talking to Dawn, Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) spokesperson Sajid Shah had said it was a positive development and expressed the hope that Pakistan would get the vaccine in the current quarter.
PM's aide on health, Dr Faisal Sultan, had earlier told Dawn that Pakistan was in talks with multiple vaccine manufacturers for procurement and that he expected delivery in the first quarter of 2021.