Allegations of influential locals interfering the campaign surface
On the third day of the mass vaccination drive, centres in both city corporations of Dhaka saw a large number of vaccine aspirants queuing up with enthusiasm while disregarding the health guidelines.
At several vaccination centres of the capital, it was found on Monday that people from all sections of the society gathered in front of the centres to receive the precious jabs.
Although they were seen wearing facemasks, most of them were not much interested in social distancing.
People started forming up the queues immediately after sunrise while administering the vaccine began at 9am.
Many had to return home due to the limited stock – only 350 jabs a day per centre – of vaccine.
Md Khokon, a rickshaw puller, went to Surjer Hashi Clinic in Green Road area to be inoculated on Sunday but failed. He returned on Mond.
He said: “As I come in contact with many people every day, I need to get the vaccine for my safety as well as for the public. I am hopeful of getting the vaccine today [Monday].”
However, he complained that many people received vaccines after being referred by the influential locals.
Bangladesh launched the six-day mass vaccination campaign on Saturday to vaccinate 3.2 million people with the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
However, the number already exceeded 3.5 million in the first two days.
Dr Abu Hussain Md Moinul Ahsan, civil surgeon of Dhaka, said the demand for vaccines was higher than the government’s projection. “It was beyond their [government] expectation.”
Bangladesh is currently administrating four kinds of vaccines across the country: AstraZeneca-Covishield, Pfizer, Sinopharm and Moderna.
A total of 14,450,630 doses have been administered as first dose and 4,732,832 as second doses till Monday.
Dr Nasima Sultana, additional director general of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told Dhaka Tribune that after the mass vaccination campaign, the regular vaccine program would still be operational.
“We have noticed that people are showing huge interest in taking vaccines. The mass vaccination can be operated again depending on the stock,” she added.
During the six-day drive, no new stock of vaccine would be provided, if any centres run out of them early, she said.
Interference of influential locals
Shamsul Alam, who came to Hatirpool vaccination centre of Brac, said that he was refused two days in a row to get jabbed despite getting a serial number on Sunday to get a vaccine the next day.
Dhaka Tribune found out that this serial number was not an official one; rather the associates of the respective ward councillors were providing them to people unofficially.
“Influential people of nearby wards are coming with their candidates and going inside without maintaining the queue whereas I have been struggling to get the vaccine for two days. They said that 210 people will get vaccines today [Monday],” Shamsul said.
Nazrul Islam, a contractor, alleged that he even failed to manage the serial number for vaccination at Banani Bidyaniketan School and College Centre.
Parveen, a domestic help, complained that local influential people were arranging the queue according to their will.
She came to the centre from her residence around 6am but yet to receive her first vaccine jab till 1:30pm.
Third line for serial number
Usually there are two queues at any vaccination centre. One for verifying the registration of the vaccine seekers, which is maintained by the volunteers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The second queue is for verifying the SMS sent by the health authorities and then receiving the vaccine.
However, at Banani Bidyaniketan, another line was seen where people, who would not receive the vaccine that day due to limited stock, lined up to get a serial number using their NID photocopies to receive the vaccine the next day.
Local leaders maintain this queue without any official authorization.
Talking to authorities of the centres and vaccinators, it was learned that they were unaware of this process.
Vaccinator Rasaid Mondol of Banani Bidyaniketan said: “People are coming and we are providing them with vaccines. I don’t know about anything else.”
MK Alam, general secretary of ward No 19 unit Jubo League, said: “I am doing it voluntarily. It is true that we have provided a serial number but only a few received the vaccine in this way. Just to reduce the public suffering, we gave serial numbers and asked them to come on the next day.”
Some 32,706 vaccinators and 48,459 volunteers are working to make the vaccine drive a success.
As per the government order, those above 25 years of age will be vaccinated, but priority would be given to the elderly, the women and physically-challenged persons.
The government plans to inoculate some 140 million citizens from Covid-19 free of cost. So far it has managed to administer doses to some 22.5 million.