The health authorities in Bangladesh have decided to offer the Covid-19 vaccine to everyone over 12 and booster shots to all above 40 years of age.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque made the disclosure at a media call on Sunday.
“Earlier, only school children above 12 years of age could get vaccinated. Now it is available to everyone of that age group,” he said.
They will be able to sign up for the vaccine like everyone else or opt for walk-in vaccination by producing their birth certificate, the minister said. “Many of that age do not attend school or have to work for a living.”
On lowering the cut-off age for booster shots, he said: “We have 90 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in hand. The government has lowered the age limit for receiving Covid-19 booster shots to 40 from 50.”
The government will not let anyone remain unvaccinated, said the minister.
Replying to a question regarding vaccination of children above five, the minister said: “We have had discussions with the World Health Organization on the issue and they said they will let us know.”
‘Case count much higher than reported’
Sounding an alarm on the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Maleque said the infection rate in the country has seen a twenty-fold increase.
“I think the number of Covid-19 cases in the country is much higher than what is reported because most people do not get themselves tested,” he said.
The number of hospitalizations is also on the rise, said the minister, adding that the healthcare system will be overwhelmed if that trend continues.
However, Maleque said, Bangladesh has a comparatively low fatality rate from Covid-19 due to the government’s vaccination efforts.
A record 32.4 million vaccine doses were administered this month, bringing the total to 157 million since the start of the inoculation drive, he said.
On December 28 last year, Bangladesh started administering booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine but on a limited scale.
Initially only citizens above 60 received the booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine.
On January 12, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) issued an instruction to administer the Moderna vaccine instead of the Pfizer one as the third or booster shot at all vaccine centres across the country.
On January 17, the government lowered the age limit for booster shots to 50.
A person becomes eligible to receive a Covid-19 booster jab six month after taking the second dose of the vaccine.
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