Bangladesh plans vaccinating 2.5m people a month

The government is planning to vaccinate around 2.5 million (25 lakhs) persons, including healthcare professionals, freedom fighters and people aged 80 and above, in the first month of the vaccination programme.

Around 15 million (1.5 crore) persons will be vaccinated in the first six months of the programme, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

DGHS has already submitted the final draft of vaccine distribution to the health ministry for approval. The government is mulling over a plan to vaccinate 80 per cent of the people.

At first, 3 per cent (15 million) of the people will get doses. Then vaccination will gradually be given to 7 per cent, 10 per cent, 20 per cent and 40 per cent of the people in phases.

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Adviser of Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control & Research (IEDCR) Mohammad Mushtuq Husain told Prothom Alo that it was impossible to vaccinate all people simultaneously and so they had planned these phases to ensure 80 per cent population got the vaccination.

So far Bangladesh has signed an agreement with only one company to procure the vaccine. The Serum Institute of India will provide 5 million vaccines a month according to the agreement. They will provide 30 million vaccines in six installments. It is not yet ascertained when the vaccines will arrive.

However, Bangladesh will get vaccines from COVAX facility, the global initiative coordinated by WHO, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

COVAX said they will provide vaccines in the first three months of this year. But it is not sure yet how many vaccines the country will get from this facility.

As per the plans of vaccines distribution, priority will be given to physicians, nurses, healthcare professionals and ambulance drivers directly involved in Covid treatment and related activities. They will get the shots in the first month.

At the same time, similar types of professionals in the private sector along with 210,000 freedom fighters will be vaccinated.

In the second month of the vaccination programme, priority will be given to those healthcare professionals of government and private medical institutions who were not directly involved in Covid-related activities.

Besides, frontline professionals such as members of law enforcement agencies (police, traffic police, Ansars, and Village Defence Party members), members of the armed forces, important government officials, journalists, elected representatives, city corporation and pourashava officials, people involved in burials and funerals, gas, electricity and water supply workers, port workers, unskilled workers wanting to go abroad and government officials engaged in emergency services in districts and upazila have been listed in the priority chart.

According to the DGHS, a total of 50,000 journalists will be vaccinated--25,000 in second and third months respectively.

People aged between 77 and 79 will get doses in the second month while a total of 2 million 6,879 septuagenarians (aged 70 to 73) will be vaccinated in the third month. Only older citizens will get shots in the consecutive fifth and sixth months.

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DGHS has prepared the list of senior citizens in light of the 2011 census.

Apart from the distribution, DGHS will stock 45,000 vaccines for emergency usage in the first month. Then they will stock 25,000 doses every month.

Meerjady Sabrina Flora, head of the Covid-19 vaccine distribution core committee and the additional director general (planning and development) of DGHS, told Prothom Alo that they have followed the regulations of WHO to fix the priority list. Besides, a sub-committee has set up to make a list for vaccine distribution after the consultancy with WHO and different individuals and institutions.”