• Wednesday, Dec 01, 2021
  • Last Update : 03:57 pm

Health Minister: 3 million students aged 12-17 will get Pfizer jabs

  • Published at 03:40 pm October 10th, 2021
A nurse is seen taking the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine into a syringe before injecting it to a person at BSMMU Hospital in Dhaka on Monday, June 21, 2021 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

In line with WHO's nod, the vaccination drive for these students will start immediately, says Zahid Maleque

The government is finally going to start inoculating students aged 12-17 against Covid-19, with three million of the students receiving the Pfizer vaccine in the first phase.

Health experts welcomed the decision and hoped it would be an effective measure against a potential surge in Covid-19 in March next year.

Addressing a press briefing on the vaccination campaign at Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons (BCPS) on Sunday afternoon, Health Minister Zahid Maleque confirmed that they have six million Pfizer vaccine doses in stock for the first three million students and are expecting to receive another seven million doses of the vaccine soon.

Students will have to register for the vaccine with their birth certificates or through school authorities. The vaccination campaign will begin immediately after the ICT Division finishes preparations for the registration of the students, he added.

When contacted, ICT Division System Manager Masum Billah said they had already begun working on the registration process for students and it should be ready within a few days.

Also Read - Health Minister: 70-80% people will be vaccinated by March 2022

“We are getting feedback from the school authorities and working on it,” he added.

‘Pfizer would be the best for children’  

Virologist Dr Nazrul Islam, members of the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19, said Pfizer vaccines would be the best option for students as they have already been administered to students in the US.

“We suspect there will be an upsurge in Covid-19 in March next year, and it is integral that we inoculate as many people as possible before then,” he added.

“Students have started going to gatherings again, so the government has opted to vaccinate them out of fear that there will be more infections. There is no harm in it, and it should be done while we have time,” the virologist said.

The health minister said he had discussed the vaccination of students during a recent bilateral meeting with World Health Organization Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as with GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance.

Representatives of GAVI had assured that they would send a greater number of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines as they are in stock, he added.

Govt wants to fully vaccinate 80 million people by December

The government wants to fully vaccinate 80 million people by December, and a total 120 million people by March next year as they have now secured a steady supply of vaccines, according to Health Minister Zahid Maleque.

“The government plans to vaccinate 1-1.5 million people each day through the ongoing nationwide inoculation drive. Special drives might also take place from time to time,” he added.  

“We want to fully vaccinate 120 million people by around February-March of next year,” Maleque said.

According to the minister, the country has so far received 70.22 million vaccine doses from different sources – either bought, received as gifts or under the Covax facility.

“Currently, we have a total of 18.1 million doses in stock. Within this month, that stock will be over 30 million,” said the minister.

“By November, we will have at least 37.5 million doses. Most of the vaccine consignments will arrive in December. We are also hoping to receive nearly 50 million doses in December from China and Covax,” Maleque said.

Regarding vaccine production, he said the WHO had assured him of necessary support in this regard. He did not have any updates on the vaccine coproduction deal between Incepta Pharmaceuticals and Chinese company Sinopharm.

“I don’t know about the Incepta’s progress on producing Sinopharm vaccines. We have done our part by completing the paperwork. Once they begin coproduction, it will be another source of vaccines for the country,” he added.

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