Government to assess low registration in rural areas after first month of vaccination campaign
Health workers vaccinated 169,353 people in Bangladesh on Sunday, taking the total number of people vaccinated in the country to over 900,000.
The country also saw the highest number of people register for the vaccine on a single day since the vaccination campaign began, with over 250,000 people completing their registration between Saturday and Sunday. The total number of people who have completed registration stood at 1.74 million on Sunday afternoon.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said they are happy with the progress of the vaccination efforts and hopeful the process will be as smooth during administration of the second dose.
However, field-level health officials said the vaccination campaign should have been more successful in rural areas and not enough interest was generated among the people there.
The government has already decided to increase awareness programs on the campaign, but only after the first 3.5 million people are vaccinated across the country.
Registration ramps up
Only 328,000 people registered for the Covid-19 vaccine from the opening of registration on January 27 till the start of the campaign on February 7. However, an average of 200,000 people have registered for the vaccine each day since the start of the campaign.
The registration rate had increased significantly because people are now convinced that there are no significant side effects, experts said.
Officials at the ICT Division said the country recorded the highest number of registrations on a single day between Saturday and Sunday afternoons, despite the registration site having been down for maintenance work for a significant time on Saturday.
Health authorities had scaled back vaccination plans for the first month to 3.5 million people due to the lacklustre response prior to the start of the campaign. If registration continues at the current rate, then they may return to the original plan of vaccinating 6 million people.
DGHS Director (MIS) Prof Mizanur Rahman said people had gotten over their initial fear of the vaccine and are now going to the vaccine centres.
DGHS Director (NCDCs) Prof Dr Robed Amin, also one of the spokespersons for the vaccination campaign, said: “The way vaccination program is going, we are hoping to reach 3.5million target before the projected time.”
Registration will continue even after reaching the 3.5 million target and the vaccines will be administered later, he added.
“We have been assured that we will get the second consignment of the vaccine on time, around February 25. There will be no shortage,” he further said.
According to DGHS the daily Covid-19 test positivity rate in Bangladesh had dropped to 2.53% in the last 24 hours.
Rural people less interested
District and Divisional level officials said they are worried about a low number of registrations in rural areas.
Rajshahi Civil Surgeon Dr Kayum Talukder said over 18,000 people had completed registration in Rajshahi city, but only 7,000 people had registered from outside the city.
The civil surgeons of Dhaka, Kushtia, Patuakhali, Manikganj, Sylhet and Chittagong echoed their Rajshahi counterpart in saying that there were significantly fewer registrations in rural areas.
Manikganj Civil Surgeon Dr Anwarul Amin Akhand said lack of mobile phones and poor network connectivity were the main barriers to registration. Many people had also shown unwillingness to take the vaccine.
The civil surgeons called for more awareness campaigns to boost registration.
Health service Division Secretary Abdul Mannan said they would assess the number of people registered from rural areas after vaccinating the first 3.5million people across the country.
Necessary measures will be taken after the assessment, he added.
Our Rangpur Correspondent Liakat Ali, Chittagong correspondent Anwar Hussain, Sylhet Correspondent Md Serajul Islam and Rajshahi Correspondent Abdullah Al Dulal contributed to this report