Covid-19 Vaccination: Special drive now uncertain
"Now we are securing the second dose of the vaccines because a large number of people have got the first shot in the current special campaign."
The government is not likely to launch the planned special vaccination programme from August 14 as inadequate vaccine doses mire the current inoculation drive against Covid-19.
However, the current six-day pilot programme, will continue until August 11, officials said, adding that a similar campaign might be launched in September to administer the second dose to individuals who got the first one.
Meanwhile, the usual vaccination campaign will continue, they said.
Ever since the government announced giving the jabs to people turning up at the nearly 4,000 special vaccination centres with NID cards, the sheer number of people willing to get the shot has been overwhelming vaccinators across the country for the last three days.
"We will launch a similar six-day campaign in September to give them the second dose," Shamsul Haque, member secretary of the Vaccine Deployment Committee at the health directorate, told The Daily Star.
The current programme was launched with a target of inoculating 32 lakh people, but the target was achieved in the first two of the six days.
As people turned up at vaccination centres in droves, many facilities across the country ran out of their daily allocated doses within two to three hours of starting the day.
People stood 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.
Health officials said the special vaccination drive planned to launch from August 14 might be postponed due to a crisis of doses.
"Now we are securing the second dose of the vaccines because a large number of people have got the first shot in the current special campaign," Haque said.
A source in the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) said the special campaign might launch later this month if there are adequate doses in stock.
About the thousands of people who registered for the vaccine but are yet to get the shot, Prof Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, director general of the DGHS, said, "We planned to launch the special vaccination campaign on August 14, but now we are planning to inoculate those who have registered and are waiting for the SMS. They should be prioritised."
Health officials said the six-day pilot campaign taught them that on-the-spot registration can be complicated and result in chaos.
"Registering people before the vaccination day could have lessened the sufferings. We will chalk out a plan on how that can be done," the DG said.
Over the last three days, poor internet connections in many rural areas caused additional bottlenecks during on-the-spot registration.
"Healthcare professionals had to enter the data in an excel sheet and then put the data in the server. It is a complex task. This is a lesson we learnt," he added.
China's Sinopharm vaccine is being administered in rural areas and district towns while the Moderna shots are given in city corporation areas.
According to data, 66,09,145 Sinopharm and 16,72,401 Moderna shots were administered as of yesterday.
DGHS sources familiar with the situation said only half the Moderna shots are being administered, saving the rest for the second dose as there are uncertainties over its future availability. But the supply of Sinopharm doses are deemed stable.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Zahid Maleque yesterday told reporters that 54 lakh vaccine doses will arrive in the country by August 15.
Of the doses, 30 lakh will be from Covax, China's Sinopharm will ship 10 lakh doses that have been purchased by Bangladesh and China will give another 10 lakh Sinopharm doses as a gift.
"We will be able to continue the ongoing vaccination campaign at the same pace," the minister said.
About the people waiting for the SMS after registering for inoculation, the minister said, "SMSs are not sent when there is a vaccine shortage. More vaccines will arrive in the coming days and more people will get the SMS."
About the number of shots currently in stock, he said, "I cannot say at the moment, but we have the vaccine in stock."