Shahidul Islam and his wife, residents of Uttara in the capital, registered for the coronavirus vaccine on 9 July. They chose Kuwait-Bangladesh Friendship Hospital as their vaccination centre. Since then, 41 days have passed and they are yet to get the SMS for the vaccine.
About 148,000 people, who chose this hospital for vaccination, are waiting to get vaccinated. Shihab Uddin, assistant director of the hospital, said the number of registrations is much higher than the capacity. About 1,500 people are being vaccinated daily in six booths of this hospital. Half of them are getting the first dose while the rest are getting the second dose. It would take about eight to nine months to vaccinate everyone who registered for the vaccine at this pace.
The number of people waiting for vaccines after registration in the country is increasing exponentially. On 5 August, around 7.5 million people were waiting for the vaccine. And as of last Tuesday, the number of people waiting for vaccination after registration had risen to 17.2 million which means that the number had increased by 10 million within just 12 days. Many of them had registered a month and a half ago but have not received any message yet.
Officials of four vaccine centres in the capital said the second dose expectants cover half of a vaccine centre’s capacity. The waiting list will continue to rise if the registration continues without increasing the capacity.
Nargis Sultana, a resident of Pallabi in the capital, registered on 8 July to get vaccinated at the Dhaka Dental College vaccine centre. She had not get any SMS as of Wednesday.
She said, “I don’t know when I will be vaccinated. Officials at the vaccine centre have said the pressure has increased as the age limit for vaccination has been reduced.”
More than 30,000 waiting in 14 centres
As of Wednesday, more than 880,000 people were waiting for the vaccine in 27 vaccination centres. The number of vaccine expectant is more than 30 thousand in 14 of them. The number is highest at the Kuwait-Bangladesh Friendship Hospital. At the Dhaka Dental Hospital, as many as 92,000 people, the second highest number of people waiting to be vaccinated at a centre, are waiting at Dhaka Dental College Hospital.
Information of the registrants is first sent to respective vaccine centres. The centres then send text messages to people for vaccination based on its daily capacity. Messages are sent using the software of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS). The number of registration is higher than the capacity and this is why such a mess has been created.
On condition of anonymity, a coordinator of a vaccine centre in the capital said Sinopharm vaccines are being provided at the vaccination centres in a very controlled manner. Therefore, the vaccine centres do not have enough vaccines. So it is not possible to send the message for vaccines to a large number of registrants in one day.
According to the DGHS, more than 32.96 million have registered for the vaccine as of Tuesday. Of them, some 15,797,954 got the first dose of vaccine while some 5,930,196 got both doses of coronavirus vaccine. At the beginning, the age limit for vaccination was at least 55 years. After the reduction of the age limit in phases, 25-year-olds are also allowed to register for vaccines now.
Prof Mizanur Rahman, director of the DGHS’s Management Information System (MIS), told Prothom Alo that the number of registration is higher than the capacity of a vaccine centre. Everyone who has registered for the vaccine will get it in phases. The SMSs for vaccination are being sent by maintaining regularity.
Registration stops at CMCH
More than 215,000 people have registered for vaccines at Chattogram Medical College Hospital (CMCH). About 100,000 received the first dose so far. The hospital authorities are now sending SMS to those who registered one and a half months ago. Registration has been put on a halt at CMCH since Tuesday.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, Sazzad Hossain, member secretary of the hospital’s vaccination implementation committee, said more than 400,000 people will have to be inoculated with vaccine in the first and the second doses altogether. That’s why registration has been halted at this centre since Tuesday, he added.
No vaccine for registered people during extended drive
The extended Covid-19 vaccination drive was conducted from 7 to 12 August. But people registered before the extended programme didn’t get the vaccine. Many people who registered in Dhaka were turned away from the centres during the extended vaccination drive since they didn’t receive the SMS.
Tanjima Tabassum, from the capital’s Mirpur, registered for the vaccine at Lalkuthi Hospital in Mirpur on 23 July. She went to the centre on the first day of the extended vaccine drive but couldn’t receive the vaccine. She told Prothom Alo, “Many people got the vaccine without registration. Did we make a mistake by registering? I haven’t received the SMS as yet.”
Many people are waiting for the second dose. After administering the first dose, the vaccinators put a date for the second dose on the vaccine card. Many people are appearing in the centres despite not receiving the SMS. But, the second dose isn’t being given without SMS. This has created disorder at the vaccine centres.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, Nazrul Islam, member of national technical advisory committee and former vice chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, said it seems the DGHS has no headache about people waiting for vaccines after getting registered. It won’t be possible to resolve this problem unless the capacity of the centres increases, he added.
*This report appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu and Hasanul Banna