The vast majority of people who have been vaccinated are from affluent sections of society
Little over a month ago, Bangladesh started its nationwide Covid-19 vaccination campaign. To the credit of the authorities concerned the campaign has been proceeding smoothly, apart from some minor glitches.
A dry run of the vaccination campaign started on January 27 and the campaign proper on February 7.
As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 5.25 million people had registered online for vaccination and over four million people had been administered with the first of two doses of the vaccine.
Although the vaccination campaign has been running smoothly, one very important aspect is missing: equitability. Currently, only educated and affluent segments of society with access to technology have been able to register for vaccination, while less educated and marginalized communities that do not have easy access to technology have been left out.
Some members of marginalized communities were able to get vaccinated in the first few days of the campaign, when the option to register on-site at vaccination centres was available. However, the authorities discontinued on the spot registration as it led to problems in vaccine management.
Top health officials of the country have acknowledged the disparity, saying they are trying their best to find a mechanism to ensure equal access to the vaccines.
The situation will improve once more vaccines are available, they say. Health officials on duty at different vaccination centres echoed their superiors.
"I would say it's 90-10 in favour of educated and affluent parts of society," said an official in charge of a vaccination centre at a large hospital in Dhaka.
Although on-the-spot registration is no longer available, some members of marginalized communities have still managed to register and get the vaccine at the district and upazila levels. However, this is difficult to replicate in the densely populated capital, where a significant portion of the population is underprivileged.
Regardless of their position in society, every citizen is entitled to vaccination and the authorities must take measures in this spirit.
At the same time, the authorities concerned must intensity their awareness campaigns on the vaccination program. All the people of the country must know about the vaccine, the necessity of being vaccinated and the safety offered by the vaccine.
The objective of the vaccination will only be successful when it is possible to vaccinate everyone equitably.