Health Minister Zahid Maleque inaugurated the campaign in Dhaka on Sunday morning
Ministers, lawmakers, top officials of the government, and notable personalities led the Covid-19 vaccination drive across the country after its inauguration on Sunday.
According to top-level government sources, the chief justice along with several High Court (HC) and Supreme Court (SC) judges, ministers, lawmakers, armed forces members, renowned doctors, senior politicians, and secretaries got the vaccine on the first day of the mass immunization campaign to encourage the general people to get their jabs too.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque inaugurated the campaign at a virtual event at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) in Dhaka.
People urged to get vaccinated
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune after getting the first of two doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim said: “Various quarters carried out negative campaigns against the Covid-19 vaccine.
“We are taking the vaccine to send a clear message to the people that it is safe and necessary for protection from the deadly virus in the future,” he added.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain was administered with the vaccine at the capital’s Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital (SSMCH).
"I have been vaccinated and feel no problem, so I will tell the general people to register for the vaccine as soon as possible. This is a great achievement for our prime minister,” the chief justice told reporters.
Besides, 54 SC and HC judges were also immunized at the vaccination facility in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
Soon after the inauguration, several cabinet members, including the health minister, Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, Rail Minister Nurul Islam Sujan, Environment Minister Shahab Uddin, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Md Enamur Rahman, Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Noufel, were vaccinated at different vaccination centres.
Lawmakers of different districts were seen getting their vaccine doses while inaugurating the government’s mass immunization effort in their own constituencies.
Jessore 3 MP Kazi Nabil Ahmed formally inaugurated the vaccination drive at Jessore General Hospital by taking the first shot of the vaccine at 11:45am on Sunday.
Government high ups including Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam, PMO Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah, Senior Secretary Heal Uddin, and Health Secretary Abdul Mannan also got their vaccine jabs.
The Armed Forces Division started vaccinating members at all military hospitals the same day.
Acting army chief and Quartermaster General (QMG) Lt Gen SM Shafiuddin Ahmed centrally inaugurated the vaccination program for the members of the Armed Forces at the Dhaka CMH. Chief of General Staff of Army Lt Gen Ataul Hakim Sarwar Hasan received the first dose of vaccine.
Air Chief Marshal Masihuzzaman Serniabat, BGB ADG Brig Gen Nazrul Islam Khan were also administered with the vaccine on the first day of the drive to encourage others.
Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK) founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, after receiving his dose, said: “I am fine. There is no fear. I urge the people of our country to get vaccinated whenever their date comes. It is one's duty to get the vaccine.
“Also, if the prime minister comes here [at the vaccination centre] and takes the vaccine, people will be encouraged more,” he added.
DU VC Md Akhtaruzzaman, DMP Commissioner Shafiqul Islam were also vaccinated on the first day.
When contacted, Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif said: “I am feeling fine after getting vaccinated in the morning. There are no side effects. Nothing! Moreover, I have attended a cricket tournament in the afternoon. I even played there for a bit.”
PMO Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah said: “I got the vaccine jab while maintaining health safety protocols. I was observed for 30 minutes after getting inoculated. There were no initial side effects, and I am feeling quite okay.”
Noted DU teacher Dr Imtiaz Ahmed said: “I am feeling well. Taking the vaccine is not a difficult task. Many people are thinking that they will get the jabs after seeing what happens to others. The vaccine has to be taken today or tomorrow. I think it is wise to take sooner rather than later."
A total 31,160 people, including 9,314 in Dhaka division, were vaccinated on the first day of the countrywide inoculation program.
DGHS Director General Dr ABM Khurshid Alam on Saturday said a total of 2,400 vaccination teams would be deployed across the country: 204 teams at 50 vaccine centres in Dhaka and 2,196 teams at 995 centres outside the capital.
It was initially planned for 6,725 vaccination teams to be deployed, with 619 teams in reserve. While the original deployment would have been able to vaccinate 670,000-1,000,000 people per day, the reduced number of teams should be able to inoculate about 360,000 people per day.
Meanwhile, the government has cancelled the leave of health workers until February 10 due to the nationwide vaccination drive.
Countrywide immunization scenario
In Sylhet, Divisional Commissioner Md Mashiur Rahman took the first shot of Covid-19 vaccine at Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College and Hospital. Total vaccinated – 2,396.
In Chittagong, Deputy Education Minister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury Nowfel formally inaugurated the vaccination drive at Chittagong Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) by taking the first jab of the vaccine. Total vaccinated – 6,443.
In Rangpur, City Corporation Mayor Mostafizar Rahman Mostafa launched the campaign in the district by receiving the first jab at the hospital. Total vaccinated – 2,912.
In Rajshahi, Workers Party of Bangladesh lawmaker Fazle Hossain Badsha received the first jab of the vaccine at Rajshahi Medical College and Hospital.
In Khulna, city corporation Mayor Talukder Abdul Khaleque launched the vaccination drive by receiving his first shot at Khulna Medical College and Hospital. Total vaccinated – 3,233.
In Barisal, City Mayor Serniabad Sadik Abdullah launched the campaign at Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital while Jatiya Party MP Nasreen Jahan Ratna inaugurated the immunization program of Barisal division at Bakerganj Upazila Health Complex. Total vaccinated – 1,412.
Dhaka Tribune's Ali Asif Shawon, Sylhet correspondent Md Serajul Islam, Chittagong correspondent Anwar Hussain, Rajshahi correspondent Dulal Abdullah, Khulna correspondent Hedayet Hossain Molla, Barisal correspondent Anisur Rahman Swapan, and Rangpur correspondent Likat Ali Badal also contributed to this report