In this upazila of 163,000 people, for months, day after day, long and orderly lines formed outside the vaccination centres.

Students, teachers, farmers, potters – young and old, rich and poor, highly and barely educated –showed up when their names were called; then returned weeks later for the second dose.

“Fakirhat is the first upazila in Bangladesh to have achieved 100 per cent vaccination of all eligible population. This is quite an achievement. We will use Fakirhat experience in other upazilas of the country,” Lokman Hossain Miah, senior secretary to the Health Services Division, said on Thursday while addressing a programme in the upazila.

“All the eligible target group people above 12 years of age in Fakirhat have been vaccinated. Around 163,000 people live here. Against an eligible population of 126,000 in the upazila, 120,000 people have been inoculated and 6,000 residents who live outside the upazila also got jabbed – that makes it 100 per cent vaccination,” Fakirhat upazila parishad chairman Swapan Kumar Das said.

Swapan credited the success to several campaigns, including mega vaccination drives, special camps for senior citizens, door-to-door campaigns, and the engagement of public leaders at all levels.

“We need 270 million (27 crore) vaccine doses. The government has bought 210 million (21 crore) vaccine shots. Also, it has got 100 million (10 crore) doses as gifts,” Lokman said.

Addressing the programme professor Meerjady Sabrina Flora, additional director general of the health directorate said, “We have started administering booster doses to people over 60 years of age and want to fully vaccinate 100 per cent of the target population against Covid-19 by March.”

Bangladesh launched a nationwide vaccination programme on 7 February this year to immunise at least 80 per cent of the population in three phases.

The country is now administering vaccines developed by five companies – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Sinopharm, and Sinovac.

It has administered at least 12,56,30,679 doses of Covid vaccines so far including 43,004 booster shots.

The country is now recording 361 new infections on average each day, 3 per cent of the peak – the highest daily average reported on 3 August.

Since the start of the pandemic, it has recorded 15,84,811 infections and 28,070 Covid-related deaths, according to the Directorate General of Health Services.

Even before the arrival of Omicron, Bangladesh could not fully beat back Covid. It has continued to circulate in the country – though at a far lower rate – putting an end to any notion that the current vaccine doses alone will stop the virus.

However, the vaccine has changed everything. Covid cases are still seen but they are mild.

Covid vaccines cannot offer 100 per cent protection but when more people are jabbed there is less opportunity for the virus to infect and spread.

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