People interested in taking vaccines to return to normal life again
More people are rushing to vaccination centres to get Covid-19 vaccine shots across the country, after the large-scale program resumed on Tuesday.
Experts said that the new arrival of vaccines, coupled with the desperation of returning to a normal life, was the leading cause behind the increase in interest.
Health experts said misinformation regarding purchasing vaccines had discouraged them from getting inoculated in the first place. They blamed the government for not delivering the right information.
Officials of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said information regarding unavailability of vaccines had led people into staying away from getting inoculated. But since they were assured of available vaccines they had started coming to the centres.
More than 10 million people have registered for the Covid-19 vaccine under the government’s inoculation program, amid a spike in infections and deaths across the country due to the spread of the deadly Delta variant of the virus.
Describing it as a landmark for Bangladesh, the Department of Information and Communication Technology has said in a statement that some 10,093,593 people completed registration till 11:14pm on Wednesday.
According to the DGHS, 138,161 doses of vaccines were administered across the country on the first day of the campaign, and 178,408 on the second day on Wednesday.
The DGHS wants to inoculate at least 200,000 people a day. It has the capacity of administering 360,000 doses daily.
At present, the government is administering Oxford-AstraZeneca (Covishield), Pfizer-BioNtech, Sinopharm and Moderna vaccines.
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Dr Shamshul Haque, member secretary of the Covid-19 vaccine deployment committee, has said that the allotment for the first doses of Pfizer vaccine might end Thursday while the stock of Covishield would have been over by late May had people come to vaccination centres on time.
The health authorities now have a handful of Covishield vaccines at hand.
Bangladesh has so far received 3.1 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, 1.1 million as gift from China, and 2.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine under the Covax program.
While talking to some of the vaccine recipients at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, it was found that many were students. They said that they wanted to return to the campus to complete their graduation.
Ishrat Jahan, a final-year student of Dhaka University, said the health authorities were saying that vaccine recipients would be in an advantageous position as the severity of the infection would be low.
Meanwhile, Monir Hussain, a Mohammadpur resident, said he was surprised to get the vaccine within a few days of registration.
DGHS spokesperson Prof Dr Robed Amin said once people started taking vaccines, the number of recipients at centres would increase, which was happening right now.
Prof Dr Nazrul Islam said the government had failed to provide information about vaccines in a systematic way. That frustrated people and they turned away from the program.
But as vaccines started to arrive, and as there were indications of more vaccines to come, people's presence at vaccination centres was expected to be higher in the coming days, he added.
"All they want is to return to their normal life. That’s the driving force," the professor observed.
Bangladesh is currently administering the Moderna vaccine in areas under the city corporations, while the Sinopharm vaccine was being given in district and upazila hospitals.
Bangladesh to receive more vaccines
Health Minister Zahid Maleque on Saturday confirmed that the authorities had reached an agreement with Russia and the country would get a significant amount of vaccines this month.
Besides, the country would get 6 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine early next month, he added.
Meanwhile, Ito Naoki, Ambassador of Japan in Bangladesh, posted on Twitter that the Japanese government would provide 2.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine under Covax facilities to Bangladesh.
The health minister said it was hoped that the vaccines would arrive this month.
Meanwhile, the foreign minister in a Facebook post said the country was going to receive 3 million more doses of Moderna vaccine from Covax facilities.
In the meantime, the Finance Ministry has made it known that the government was going to buy 15 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine from China at a lower price as previously agreed by the two governments.
When asked, the Public Relations Officer of the ministry, Gazi Towhidul Islam, confirmed that a proposal in this regard was approved during a virtual meeting of the Cabinet Committee, chaired by Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Wednesday.
Bangladesh received 2 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine on July 2 as part of an agreement of purchasing 15 million doses of vaccine.
A lower price would be applicable for the rest 13 million vaccines and additional 2 million vaccines onward, he confirmed.
Migrant workers to get Moderna vaccine after Pfizer’s stock depletes
The health authorities have decided to provide the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine while keeping the second dose in store.
Migrant workers will get the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine after the stock of Pfizer vaccine ends by Thursday, said vaccine deployment committee member secretary Dr Shamsul Alam.
Dr Alam, a line director of DGHS, said that Pfizer was given to migrant workers going to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and other countries of the Middle East, mainly Kuwait.
People who receive Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson, and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines could visit any country.
Besides, Saudi Arabia recently approved Sinopharm and vaccine recipients would not need to be under 14 days of institutional quarantine, he added, urging migrant workers to be patients and take the Moderna vaccine being provided to them.
The Expatriate Affairs Ministry has already said if migrant workers’ visas were nearing an end, they could travel to KSA after taking the first shot and then avail the second dose in KSA after registering with the Tawakkalna App.