• Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022
  • Last Update : 03:32 am

No more mass walk-in Covid vaccination drive

  • Published at 02:13 pm August 23rd, 2021
A large number of people wait in line to get their Covid-19 vaccine card from the office of a Dhaka ward councillor on Sunday, August 8, 2021 | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Inoculation only after registering online, says the health minister

The government has decided not to conduct any more walk-in mass Covid-19 vaccination campaigns, says Health Minister Zahid Maleque.

“Vaccine seekers have to register on the Shurokkha app before getting the shots. There will be no more walk-in mass vaccination campaigns,” he told the media on Monday at the Secretariat.

The minister said that the word “mass” can no longer be used to describe the vaccination programs and only those receiving the text messages after registering online will be given the shots.

“We’ll call a specific number of people [depending on the stock of doses] so that we can provide the vaccine,” he said. 

People anxiously wait outside the vaccination centre set up at the Sadeque Hossain Khoka Community Centre in the capital’s Gopibagh area on Sunday, August 8, 2021 | Dhaka TribuneThe government started mass vaccination programs across the country from August 7 after receiving Sinopharm doses from China and Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca jabs under the Covax scheme.

Even though the walk-in inoculation, requiring only the national identity cards, received good response, many had to return without shots due to shortage of doses. There were also widespread complaints of mismanagement.

“Even though we didn’t want it, there were massive crowds at centres during mass vaccination,” the health minister said,adding that no one needs to rush for their shots as all vaccines have good efficacy. 

The minister said that people in the villages were reluctant to get vaccinated and hence the government took the drive to rural level.

People stand in a queue to receive Covid vaccine at an inoculation centre in Rangpur as Bangladesh takes its vaccination drive to the grassroots on August 7, 2021 | Dhaka Tribune

Maleque said that the government hopes to inoculate some 70 to 80 million people against the coronavirus by January or February next year.

Bangladesh expects to receive another six million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by September, he said before adding: “An additional one million doses are expected to arrive through the World Health Organization.”

According to the minister, the government has placed an order of 75 million doses from China and also agreed to buy vaccines from the World Health Organisation.

Maleque said that if the government receives 160 million doses, around 80 million people can be vaccinated. 

“Then there is the free vaccine from Covax which will add to that 160 million doses.”

"We are also considering the possibility of administering the second dose within 15-20 days after the first shot," he said.

Crowds in Dhaka’s Rajarbagh Police Line area to receive the Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday, August 5, 2021| Dhaka TribuneThe health minister said that the Cabinet has also discussed plans to vaccinate workers as most of those inoculated have survived the virus.

Last year, Bangladesh signed a deal with India’s Serum Institute for 30 million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covishield and started inoculating the population on February 7 this year.

However, the neighboring country stopped exports of vaccines after the Serum sent seven million doses prompting the government to halt administering first doses from April 25.

The government later placed orders for China’s Sinopharm on an emergency basis and since then has also received Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca under the Covax program.

In order to vaccinate the mass population, the government started the six-day walk-in vaccination programs at the union and ward levels from August 7.

Over 35 million people registered for the vaccine which is merely 30 percent of the total population. 

Among them, 6.6 million have gotten the first dose and over 6.5 million their second dose.

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