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ED: Vaccination for every citizen

  • Published at 04:48 am March 12th, 2021
vaccine bangladesh-mehedi
File Photo: India's Serum Institute of India (SII) is set to export 1 million Covishield doses to Bangladesh in October Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

The biggest obstacle to ensuring an equitable vaccine rollout has been the lack of digital and internet literacy

With over 4 million people already vaccinated in Bangladesh, it is now important to evaluate which segments of our population have had unobstructed access to the vaccination process, and which have had little to no access at all.

For starters, the biggest obstacle to ensuring an equitable vaccine rollout has been the lack of digital and internet literacy among the less affluent parts of our society. With the vaccine registration process having moved fully online after on-the-spot registration was made unavailable, it has become inaccessible to much of the population, particularly to the impoverished and the marginalized.

To tackle this, individuals and community organizations have taken certain steps. A vaccination drive began in Daulatdia, Bangladesh’s largest brothel, in late February, and the minimum age limit for vaccination was also recently lifted for sex workers there. Similar attempts to help marginalized communities -- such as the transgender and Hijra communities -- register for vaccination are also being made by rights organizations.

However, so long as this task is being left to a handful of social workers and not being taken up at a larger scale by the government and other concerned authorities, crucial vaccinations will not be available to all of the nation’s citizens, as they should be.

As reported by the Dhaka Tribune, an official in charge of a vaccination centre in Dhaka said that the odds of registering and subsequently being vaccinated were 90-10 in favour of the educated and wealthy. These cannot be acceptable numbers.

It is imperative now for the government to take this issue seriously and, through more accessible vaccination drives, provide equal opportunity for every citizen to get vaccinated.

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