Covid-19 Vaccination: Next drive likely to begin Tuesday; target 20 lakh
The government plans to inoculate at least 20 lakh people against Covid-19 in another special vaccination drive expected to begin on Tuesday.
The drive's duration will depend on the availability of the shots, said health officials, adding that only Sinopharm jabs would be administered as first dose during the campaign, which has been planned mainly to vaccinate the elderly and those living in rural areas.
The plan was outlined as a six-day special vaccination piloting ended yesterday. Around 48 lakh people received their first shot during the drive, said officials.
The government had targeted to vaccinate 32 lakh people in the piloting, launched on August 7 on the sidelines of the regular vaccination campaign. It had to raise the number in the face of huge demand and massive response from people across the country.
The special drive, however, was mired by irregularities. Vaccine seekers were seen standing in mile-long queues on roads, crowds jammed themselves into vaccination centres and brawls broke out, turning into potential superspreading events. Besides, thousands returned without jabs due to shortage of vaccines.
"We are planning to launch a similar drive on August 17. The length of the drive will depend on the availability of vaccines. If we get a small number of vaccines, the drive may run for even a single day," Prof Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, director general of the DGHS, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Earlier, the government had planned to launch a special drive on August 14-19 but backtracked due to vaccine shortages.
Sources in the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said they have a plan in place to start a countrywide campaign with fresh consignments of vaccine doses arriving in the country.
The government received more than 34 lakh Sinopharm doses this week and is expecting another 20 lakh doses by August 15.
"We have planned to start a countrywide campaign. Once we receive the 20 lakh doses, we will start sending the doses to different centres across the country," a DGHS official said, adding that since they have got only Sinopharm vaccines in hand, those would be administered in vaccination centres in rural and city areas.
The government has already suspended administering the first dose of Moderna vaccine saying the rest of the shots in its stock would be used as second jabs.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque told reporters yesterday that the country was expected to receive over one crore Covid-19 vaccines this month.
Health experts said the special campaign, which ended yesterday, enabled the government to create awareness among the people, especially those in the rural areas.
"People were registering for the jabs and local level representatives and field level health workers were engaged in the campaign, which was a success of the government," said Prof Be-Nazir Ahmed, former director (disease control) of the DGHS.
"The move was very good but what we found was a serious lack of coordination in the national level. Conflicting statements from various government officials on vaccination confused people," said Ahmed.
He also said it was seen that hundreds of people stood in queues for taking the jabs and many returned home without getting it.
Ahmed said had the government prepared a list in advance, engaging the rural level healthcare workers, the chaos and sufferings of people could have been avoided.
"A system must be in the place so that people don't have to suffer this year. Such gathering also increases chances that the virus may spread further," he said.
One of the top officials of DGHS said they found some chaos vaccination booths in the city.
"We are planning to increase the number of booths to reduce people's hassle," said the official, preferring not to be named.
The DG of DGHS also admitted some faults in the piloting campaign.
"There were some faults from our part and there were some faults from the peoples' parts in the special drive. Those will be addressed in the next drive," he said.