Advertisement
Advertisement

At present, the country’s population is 169,110,000. As such, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has planned to vaccinate 135,100,000 people.

Bangladesh’s status in administering both doses is not satisfactory. According to the latest figure of the World Health Organization, Bangladesh is only above Myanmar in this list out of the 10 countries in South-East Asia as of Friday.

Meanwhile, the health minister said while speaking to the newsmen after the cabinet meeting on Monday that 80 million people would be vaccinated within February 2022. However, he didn’t mention when the rest 50 million people of the country would be vaccinated.

At present, the country’s population is 169,110,000. As such, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) has planned to vaccinate 135,100,000 people.

Bangladesh’s status in administering both doses is not satisfactory. According to the latest figure of the World Health Organization, Bangladesh is only above Myanmar in this list out of the 10 countries in South-East Asia as of Friday.

Meanwhile, the health minister said while speaking to the newspersons after the cabinet meeting on Monday that 80 million people would be vaccinated within February, 2022. However, he didn’t mention when the rest 50 million people of the country would be vaccinated.

The pace of inoculation drive

The vaccination drive in the country started on 7 February. Some 30 thousand people received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine that day. On Thursday last, a bit more than 514,000 doses of vaccine were administered, including the first and second doses.

The vaccination drive has been going on for 161 days since February. Around 156,000 doses of the Covid vaccine have been administered daily on an average. In the meantime, the vaccine was administered in expanded form from 7 to 12 August. A total of 5.3 million people were vaccinated in those six days.

As per the target set by the health minister, a total of 160 million doses of vaccines are to be administered by February. Nearly 25.3 million doses of vaccines have already been administered, which means another 134.7 million doses of vaccines are still to be administered. The health directorate has 157 days in hand. Therefore, it would need to vaccinate more than 850,000 people daily to meet the target set by the health minister.

On the other hand, only 4.3 per cent of the target has been fulfilled in the last seven months. At this pace, it would take 133 months or more than 11 years to vaccinate even 76 per cent of the total population.

No more mass vaccination

After the cabinet meeting on Monday, Zahid Maleque said the mass vaccination would not continue due to lack of vaccines. SMS for vaccines would be sent to people based on the amount of vaccines in hand. The word “mass” would not be used in future.

The DGHS termed the extended vaccination programme as mass vaccination. Apart from the regular vaccination activities, vaccines were administered at 4,600 union parishads, 1,054 pourashavas (municipalities) and 433 wards of 12 city corporations.

However, there had been some criticisms regarding the management of mass vaccination drives. There was chaos in some vaccine centres. There were also allegations of people close to the officials getting undue privileges at some centres. When people were waiting for days after registration, many were being vaccinated by registering at the vaccine centres. This was also discussed in the meeting of the parliamentary standing committee.

On Wednesday, the health minister held a meeting with the field officers of the DGHS online. Shyamal Krishna Mandal, assistant director of Barishal health department also joined the meeting.

He told Prothom Alo that instructions had been given to increase the number of booths at the vaccine centres. Apart from that, the number of vaccine centres would increase as well if the local administration wants.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Sheikh Fazle Rabbi, civil surgeon of Chattogram, said, “The mass vaccination campaign has been stopped for the time being. However, we have been instructed to increase vaccination by setting up camps from time to time.”

The health officials say a nationwide campaign for the vaccine will no longer be run. Campaigns will be run in special cases to bring certain people under vaccination. For example, it is being considered to run this sort of campaign to vaccinate students.

The country has so far received more than 31.7 million doses of vaccines. Of them, nearly 25.3 million doses have already been administered. At present, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sinopharm and Moderna vaccines are being administered in the country.

The vaccination drive in the country began in February with vaccines purchased and received as a gift from India.

But after March, India's suspension of vaccine exports slowed down the country's vaccination programme. Since then, the government has been purchasing vaccines from Sinopharm in China.

Apart from this, the United States and Japan have provided vaccines to Bangladesh under the Covax initiative.

Public health expert Be-Nazir Ahmed told Prothom Alo that the necessity is now to vaccinate more people in a short span of time. Vaccines should be procured from all the possible sources.

Dependency on India regarding vaccine procurement had been observed during the initial stages. And now overdependence on China is being observed. But the government should look for more alternative sources.

Read more from Bangladesh
Advertisement