Government made arrangements for a total of 210 million doses, says the health minister
To curb the massive surge of Covid-19 the government is planning to start a mass inoculation program across the country soon under which health workers will go door to door to vaccinate every citizen.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued directives in this regard to the health minister at Monday's cabinet meeting, sources said.
Following the cabinet meeting, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said: “The government has made arrangements to procure a total of 210 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to inoculate 140 million people — about 80% of the population.”
A senior minister who was at the meeting told Dhaka tribune: “Right now, the cut-off age for vaccination is 30 years but Covid-19 frontliners’ families who are above 18 years of age are also getting the vaccine.
“Within a short period of time, the age limit will be relaxed furthermore. Initially anyone above 18 years of age will be able to get vaccinated and the age barrier will eventually be lowered to 12.”
“If needed, health workers will go door to door in the villages to ensure vaccine jabs for the elderly as they might be averse to taking vaccines,” he added.
When asked where this huge manpower would come from, the cabinet member said that Covid-19 vaccine inoculation was not a very tough job; it could be easily administered in the muscle and there was no need to push this vaccine into the vein.
“We have a large number of workers linked to the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) all over the country who have been inoculating people with vaccines provided by the government for the last 30 years. I do not think manpower will be a problem in vaccination,” he added.
Another minister said that: “The government is also considering setting up field hospitals operated by the Army, BGB, Police, Rab and similar other forces across the country so that people can get access to Covid-19 vaccines easily.”
“The prime minister said if we want to get back to normal life again, there is no alternative to vaccination. She urged all of us to create awareness so that people do not fear vaccines.”
On Saturday, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the government will initiate measures to allow vaccination of the elderly people in rural areas with online vaccination. “They will get the jabs by just producing the national ID cards. It will be updated in the database later.”
The health minister also said that every week, roughly 200 tons of oxygen will be made accessible for Covid-19 patients. Moreover, to make the health service easier the Health Ministry plans to recruit an additional 4,000 doctors and 4,000 nurses without police verification and viva voce.
Bangladesh launched the nationwide vaccination program on February 7. Since then, more than 11.8 million doses of four types of vaccines have been administered, including the first and second shots.
Of the 210 million vaccine doses to be procured by the government, 30 million doses will be of Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccine each, 10 million of Sputnik-V, 70 million Johnson & Johnson, and 68 million doses of different vaccines through the Covax scheme, including Pfizer and Moderna, according to the health minister.