Failure to enforce health rules during vaccination defeats the purpose, they say
Unprecedented enthusiasm for vaccine registration and the scope for walk-in vaccination have led to a massive rush at vaccine centres across the country, turning them into Covid-19 hotspots, experts have warned.
Vaccine registration had been lacklustre since the start of the vaccination campaign in February, but the number of people who have registered for vaccination has shot past 20 million over the past few weeks.
The launching of the walk-in vaccination program at this time led to massive crowds at vaccine centres, and volunteers were ill-equipped to cope with the high turnout.
Virologist Dr Nazrul Islam says mass vaccination is crucial to ending the pandemic. There is no alternative to increasing the number of vaccination centres and volunteers to maintain order and social distancing.
“We have a huge population, and they need to be vaccinated, no matter what. What happened over the last two days [crowds at vaccine centres] should not have happened because the larger the crowd, the greater the risk of Covid-19 transmission,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Director (Management Information System) Prof Mizanur Rahman told Dhaka Tribune that the director general would recommend deploying more volunteers if necessary.
On Sunday, Nafiza Islam went to Tilpapara Nagar Matrisadan for her second dose early in the morning, thinking that the centre would be less crowded early at that time.
However, it took her almost three hours to get the shot and there was no social distancing at the vaccination centre at all.
“There was absolutely no order. I avoided crowds and tried to maintain social distancing, but everything was a total mess. I felt like I couldn't breathe, and my head was spinning [because of the cramped conditions],” she said.
Queues were nowhere in sight, with most people standing together in clumps.
“Vaccinating people against a contagious disease in small, crowded places like this defeats the purpose of vaccination,” she added.
There were some chairs at the vaccine centre, but they were very few compared to the number of people there.
Jannatul Ferdous did not have to wait that long to get her second shot on Sunday, however, the overcrowding at Mohammadpur Fertility Centre left her worried that she would contract the virus while trying to gain protection from it.
“The health workers did not rub alcohol on our arms before injecting the vaccine. As far as I know, this is a standard procedure before administering any injection,” she said.
She added that some of the people at the centres had toddlers and children with them.