While commending the Nigerian government for their efforts in ensuring that Nigerians get all possible protection from the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic by making the vaccines available to Nigerians in all spheres of our national life, it is however crucial to quickly point out a very crucial observation which may greatly embarrass Nigeria and Nigerians – especially those who might be travelling to other countries very soon.
My observation is based on personal experiences on Saturday, 23rd October, 2021.
I was at the vaccination centre to get my second dose of the Moderna vaccine.
The encountered bottlenecks in the procedure were nothing strange, considering our obtuse way of making every simple thing complicated. I managed to get the jab and left the venue. As soon as I got home, I decided to verify if all my data, especially my names and date of birth, were correctly captured. The card as designed has no space to indicate the owner’s date of birth. That and other details regarding the type of vaccine taken and number of jabs received are encoded in the barcode seal.
I remember I had earlier installed a QR CODE READER app on my phone which I activated the app and scanned the barcode on my card only to see that the result showed including my name was correctly captured, but my date of birth was 6 months and 5 days off. I quickly returned to the vaccination centre to demand that that crucial data be corrected.
The officers politely agreed to verify from their databank. They discovered that the code reader was correct and immediately effected the correction. One young man who was there for his second dose approached me and asked how he could check if his own data were correctly captured too.
I offered to scan his barcode and again his birthday was 3 years wrong. I scanned the cards of 4 others in the crowd and discovered that the birthdays of 3 were off on several scores. I returned to my Sports Club and shared the day’s experiences with friends and members.
This started us off on another round of barcode scanning. The results were baffling: out of the 8 scanned only one was without errors in the date of birth. The most disturbing was the case of a 60-year old gentleman from Anambra State who had completed 2 doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine since June 2021 but whose data read that he is 40-year old Ahmad Sule who has taken only one dose of the Moderna vaccine.
The consequences of these errors are dire and are better imagined especially for travellers at the entry points of countries where the barcodes on travellers’ cards would have to be scanned for verification.
My intention for sharing this experience and observations is to encourage everyone who has commenced the vaccination process to go through the following simple steps:
1. Download any QR CODE READER or BARCODE READER app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store.
2. Open the app and position the aperture in such a way that the barcode will be completely inside the aperture. Once the scan is complete your full details will appear on the phone.
3. Report any errors immediately at the vaccination centre.