Crowds unlikely to be as bad as during first doses, govt officials say
Abdul Malek, the 65-year-old caretaker of a building on Dhaka’s Nurjahan road, is waiting eagerly to receive his second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. He had been struggling with the vaccine registration process until the walk-in vaccination program gave him a much-needed lifeline.
“The only thing I am afraid of is the long queues. I had to go through a lot of pain to get the first dose,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
Malek is not the only one who fears chaos at the temporary vaccination centres for the drive. During the administering of the first doses through the walk-in program, health experts warned that the overcrowded vaccination centres would facilitate the transmission of Covid-19 instead of preventing it.
However, Sheikh Mohammad Hossain Khokon, councillor of ward No 34 under Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), believes the overcrowding will not be as bad the second time around.
“It was chaotic during the first doses as everyone rushed to the temporary centres. This time, only the people who have received vaccines will go to the centres, so the crowds should not be as large. We are also deploying more volunteers than we did the last time,” he explained.
A virtual meeting was held on Monday as part of the final preparations for administering the second dose through the walk-in campaign. Principal Secretary of the Prime Minister Office Dr Ahmad Kaikaus presided over the meeting.
According to sources present at the meeting, those who received their first dose on August 7 or 8 would receive their second dose on September 7, those on August 9 or 10 on September 8, and August 11 or 12 on September 9. This schedule is only applicable for Dhaka.
Anyone who misses their second dose timing in Dhaka can get the dose on September 10. All second dose seekers must bring the vaccine cards that were provided to them when they received the first dose in August.
The health authorities administered over five million first doses in the six days of the walk-in vaccination program in August. As per the new schedule, the same number of doses must now be administered in just three days.
After the meeting, Dr Ahmad Kaikaus said the authorities were hopeful that people would show up for their second doses.
Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), said the DGHS had completed all necessary preparations for the walk-in campaign.
The required vaccines and other equipment had been sent to the designated stores and the program was expected to start on time, he added.
When asked whether there would be a repeat of the chaos during the administering of first doses, the DGHS DG said the department had already asked the local government authorities to take measures to ensure that there were no gatherings inside or near the vaccination centres.