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Covid-19 vaccine: People getting over initial fears

  • Published at 04:55 pm February 9th, 2021
Vaccine campaign Bangladesh
File photo of a health worker administering a jab during the ongoing nationwide Covid-19 vaccine campaign Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Another 131,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine under the Covax program to arrive by this month, officials say

The current trend of the Covid-19 vaccination drive – on its third day – suggests that people are finally overcoming their initial fears surrounding the vaccine and are showing interest in getting vaccinated.

Thrice as many people got vaccinated on Tuesday (101,082) compared to the first day (31,160) and more than double of the second day (46,509).

Reports on severe side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine in the international media and misinformation made many people distance themselves from the vaccination drive initially.

The dry run started on January 28 and reports from the first two days with no major adverse events inspired people to get the vaccine, the health authorities have said.

And, therefore, the country witnessed the highest number of registrations from 6:30pm Monday to 7pm on Tuesday, as over 206,000 people got registered during the time.

The last time the country saw such a jump in registration was on February 6 when government officials were instructed to complete their registration. However, health officials say Tuesday’s situation was different as they believe most of those who registered online were from the general demography.

Thousands of people across the country have also rushed to vaccination centres to register themselves and to get vaccinated on the spot as well.

According to the DGHS, 101,082 people got vaccinated on Tuesday, taking the total number of vaccinations to 179,318. Some 94 candidates faced common side effects on Tuesday.

131,000 doses to arrive in late February

Health Services Division Secretary Md Abdul Mannan said Bangladesh would get 131,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine (Covishield) under the Covax program at the end of February.

Besides, he held out the assurance that the second consignment of Covishield vaccines that the authorities purchased from Serum Institute of India would also reach the country this month.

Under the Covax program, Bangladesh will get 12,792,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine in the first half of 2021.

Around 150 registrations per minute

In the last 24 hours, the system registered around 150 registrations per minute, according to the DGHS. Some 512,000 people had registered till 6:30pm on Monday, and the number reached 718,202 within 7pm on Tuesday.

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Division said the number of registrations went up in the afternoon.

According to an ICT division official related to the registration process, some 900 registrations were recorded for every minute during the peak hour.

The secretary of the Health Service Division, Abdul Mannan, after visiting the DMCH vaccination centre, told reporters that people were being able to register online very smoothly and for those who were  unable to complete the process, on-spot registration, including “manual registration,” had been ensured.

Dhaka Tribune found that “manual registration” meant showing up at a vaccination centre with a photocopy of one’s NID along with presenting the original for verification. The candidates then have to fill up a form from which people at the registration desk transfer the information online and complete the registration process for them.

Md Jamal, 45, who is a small trader in Motijheel, said: “The [online registration] process seemed very complicated to me and since the government allowed [vaccination for] those over 40, I came here to get registered.”

The registration app, meanwhile, was yet to arrive at the google play store.

An official at the ICT division said that the registration process from mobile phones was better suited for the “super-responsive” website, surokkha.gov.bd.

“We have witnessed that during daytime, mobiles and laptops or desktops were used for registration almost equal number of times while only 1% used tabs for registration.

“During the evening, however, some 80% of people used cell phones, 19% used laptops and 1% used tabs for registration,” the official added.

Many taking advantage of on-spot registration

Health Service Division Secretary Abdul Mannan said on-spot or manual registration were for those with less technical knowledge or for those “who are old.” “They will need photocopies of their NIDs to submit along with presenting the original copies for verification,” he said.

“We are strongly discouraging general people from doing on-site registration despite keeping the facility,” he added.

However, a number of people were seen coming to the vaccination centre without even trying online registration even once and creating chaos. Many senior citizens were seen leaving a centre as this was very time consuming.

According to volunteers at the DMCH centre, some 34 people completed manual registration till 1pm. Among them, at least 10 of them were very young, aged not more than 50.

This correspondent talked to some of them. They said that they had not tried registering online at all.

Vaccine candidates almost double in Rangpur

Our correspondents reported a significant rise in the number of vaccine takers across the country. The number in Dhaka city, however, showed relatively slow progress.

Rangpur Divisional Director (health) Dr Ahad Ali said almost twice as many people took vaccines on Tuesday.

It was a tough day for the health professionals to vaccinate all but as they had made proper preparations, it did not cause any problems. “The number of booths will be increased tomorrow [today].”

Chittagong Civil Surgeon Dr Sheikh Fazle Rabbi also expressed similar views as they had to administer 600 doses at Chittagong General Hospital on Tuesday instead of their targeted 300.

DGHS trying to limit the waste of vaccines

Reports from our district correspondents suggest that hundreds of doses are going waste as they could not be used six hours after being opened.

The Director General of the DGHS, ABM Khurshid Alam, said that the DGHS was monitoring the situation strictly and the current situation suggested that there was “nothing to worry about.”

Chief Health Officer of Sylhet City Corporation Zahidul Islam said: “We are also trying to keep the wastage to a minimum while administering the vaccines. As per protocol, 10% wastage is allowed. We prefer not to open a single vial unless there are 10 people waiting to take the shot.

Munshiganj Civil Surgeon Dr Abul Kalam Azad said the question of vaccine wastage was raised when they administered the vaccine to only one person after 1pm, as the process slowed down after the vaccination drive in the morning.

Our Rangpur Correspondent Liakat Ali, Chittagong correspondent Anwar Hussain, Sylhet Correspondent Md Serajul Islam and Rajshahi Correspondent Abdullah Al Dulal contributed to this report


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