Some health violations seen, but authorities say situation was much better than in the drive in August
Fears that use of the Sinopharm vaccine would reduce turnout during the mass inoculation campaign proved unfounded as unbridled enthusiasm for vaccination was seen at vaccine centres across the country on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s birthday on Tuesday.
Vaccine seekers who had registered through the Surokkha website or app began flocking to the centres from early in the morning, with NIDs and vaccine cards in hand.
The campaign got underway at around 9am at most centres and continued till the evening. The total number of people vaccinated on the day was yet to be determined as of 8pm.
Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Director General Dr ABM Khurshid Alam told Dhaka Tribune that crowds at the vaccine centres were unexpectedly large and he was optimistic that the vaccination target of 7.5 million people had been fulfilled.
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“If the target has not been met at any of the centres, due to the weather or any other reason, the drive may continue on Wednesday as well. We are yet to compile all the date,” he said.
The DGHS DG added that some people were inoculated with other vaccines under the regular Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) in the first few hours of the day.
According to our district correspondents, some people had to return home without the vaccine when the stock at the centres ran out.
Dhaka Division Health Director Dr Belal Hossain said his team visited inoculation centres in Savar, Manikganj and Rajbari.
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“We had set a target of inoculating 1,200 people at each centre at the union level. We saw that most unions had met their target. As many as 2,300 people thronged to some centres to be vaccinated,” he said.
Visiting the temporary centre near Dingi restaurant in Dhanmondi Residential area in the afternoon, Prime Minister’s Office Principal Secretary Ahmad Kaikaus said the special drive would continue till 7.5 million people had been vaccinated.
The total target of eight million includes the 500,000 people who are being vaccinated at permanent centres every day.
At least 1,500 people were expected to be vaccinated at each union parishad, 500 people at each ward under the municipalities, and 1,000 people at each ward under the city corporations. The mass vaccination campaign was carried out in 4,600 unions, 1,054 municipalities, and 443 wards of the city corporations.
Ahmad Kaikaus said the authorities would continue special vaccination drives until 10 million people had been vaccinated, if the requisite number of vaccines could be arranged.
Those who had received the first dose of the vaccine on Tuesday would be given the second dose on October 28, he added.
More than 80,000 health workers, including 48,059 volunteers, worked to implement the objective of the campaign.
Our local correspondents reported that the mass inoculation drive in Barisal, Bhola, Bogra, Brahmanbaria, Chittagong, Gazipur, Gopalganj, Jamalpur, Moulvibazar, Netrokona ran peacefully while maintaining health protocols.
Dr Md Abul Fazal Sahabudin, civil surgeon of Tangail district, said elderly people might be vaccinated after showing just their NID cards if there was a sufficient stock of vaccines.
In centres at Narsingdi, Manikganj, Rangpur, people were seen waiting in long queues since the morning.
Some health rule violations were seen in several districts, including in Dhaka city, but the authorities claimed the situation was much better than in the last mass vaccination campaign.
District administrations said they had administered almost double the doses in the earlier drive.
The first ever mass vaccination campaign in the country was undertaken for six days on August 7 and second doses for those who took part in the campaign were administered on September 7. The health authorities vaccinated over 5 million people with both doses during the campaign.
As of September 27, a little over 24.88 million people had received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, while nearly 16.50 million had been fully vaccinated.
The number of people registered so far is 44,819,503, according to the DGHS.
Bangladesh has so far approved seven Covid-19 vaccines. The approved Covid-19 vaccines are Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Sputnik V.