Dhaka, Jul 27: Bangladesh is set to launch walk-in vaccination at union level allowing the people to be jabbed showing their national identity (ID) cards as ordered by Prime Minister’ Sheikh Hasina to intensify the nationwide inoculation campaign.
“We have installed vaccination centres at union levels . . . the people will get vaccines there showing their national ID cards,” heath minister Zahid Maleque told a media briefing following an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal.
Maleque added that the ongoing shutdown alone was not enough to contain the pandemic, and therefore the step was taken to bolster the vaccination campaign at the grassroots.
Kamal substantiated the health minister saying the decision was taken in line with the premier’s directive to enable anyone above 18 years of age to receive the jab only carrying their national ID cards.
He said the law enforcement agencies would monitor the campaign.
Cabinet secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam and secretaries concerned joined the meeting alongside representatives from armed forces, police and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) as they were called out to enforce a nationwide two-week shutdown until August 5.
Islam said the people having no national ID cards would be vaccinated as well through on the spot registration under a special arrangement at the union level.
The home minister said the ongoing “stricter” nationwide shutdown would continue until August 5 as scheduled while the government decided to decline a plea by industrialists to spare their plant operations from the lockdown’s purview.
“We cannot accept their request,” Kamal said.
The health authorities earlier set a deadline to vaccinate 80 percent of the country’s 170 million population by next year while the decision came hours after the premier reaffirmed her government’s stance to ensure Covid-19 vaccine doses for all in any case.
“Whatever the money is needed, whatever the number of vaccines is required, we will buy that,” she said while inaugurating National Public Service Day but simultaneously urged all to strictly follow the health guidelines.
The prime minister said 1.87 crore people have so far been vaccinated and all will be brought under the vaccination programme and “no one will be left out”.
Director General of Directorate General of Health Service (DGHS) Prof Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam earlier told BSS that Bangladesh was set to purchase roughly 14 crore vaccine doses by June next year.
“The rest of the required jabs were expected to be procured in the subsequent months,” he said.
The DGHS chief said the procurement process was already underway by reaching deals with different countries and companies while agreements were finalized to get three crore vaccines from China’s Sinopharm, one crore Sputnik V of Russia, seven crore Johnson & Johnson and 65 lakh Pfizer of the US, three million AstraZeneca.
Unlike other jabs Johnson & Johnson jabs require only one dose instead of two.
According to DGHS data Bangladesh so far collected around 1.61 crore COVID-19 vaccines.
“We will vaccinate people in remotest villages,” the DGHS chief said.
People aged 55 and above were initially declared eligible to get the vaccine as the inoculation campaign was launched on February 7 this year while the age line was revised thrice thereafter.
On February 7, the countrywide COVID-19 vaccination campaign began at 1,055 designated hospitals.
“Every month one crore people in the country will have to vaccinated, meaning four lakh people every day, to get the full benefit of vaccines,” National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19 president Professor Mohammad Shahidullah said.
He said vaccination campaign would not yield excepted results unless the registration process was eased to quicken the drive as vaccines of different companies have specific efficacy period.
“Quick vaccination coverage will reduce both infection and fatality rate,” he said.