Bangladesh to complete first dosing of Oxford- AstraZeneca vaccine by Sept 9

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Dhaka, Sept 01: Recipients of the first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can now get their second shots from any vaccination centre as part of the government’s expanded inoculation programme.

However, people seeking the second dose must bring their vaccination cards to the centres.

The health directorate has also set a deadline of Sept 9 to complete the first dosing of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the country.

It issued fresh directives about the vaccination drive in a letter addressed to the chief health officers of various city corporations on Tuesday.

Despite starting the mass immunisation campaign with the Oxford-AstraZeneca doses on Feb 7, a large portion of people who registered for the vaccine had to wait a long time for the second dose as a shortage of vaccines brought the programme to a halt, the health directorate noted.

But the stocks have now been replenished and there is an adequate supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine, it added.

As many as 542,000 people are waiting to get their second jab of the vaccine, according to government data.

The letter directed health inspectors, assistant health inspectors, health assistants and family welfare assistants to inform and encourage people who missed out on the second dose to get vaccinated quickly.

NO SMS NEEDED FOR PREGNANT WOMEN

Pregnant or breastfeeding women who have registered for COVID-19 vaccination can get their shots without receiving a confirmation SMS at specified inoculation centres.

But they must show their ANC card or doctor’s prescription as proof of pregnancy before receiving their shot. They will also be required to sign a prescribed consent form.

The Directorate General of Health Services issued the instructions for directors of all hospitals across the country, civil surgeons of all districts, chief health officers of city corporations, health officers of municipalities and Upazila Health and Family Planning officers.

The letter also instructed authorities to send out confirmation SMS based on priority to registered elderly citizens and students aged above 18 and swiftly inoculate them.

When Bangladesh rolled out its immunisation drive in February, the health ministry decided to keep pregnant women off the list of recipients as the vaccines had not been tested on the demographic in a clinical setting.

On Aug 9, the government okayed inoculating pregnant and breastfeeding women in line with the recommendations of an expert panel and the DGHS chalked out a cautious plan for the inoculation of the pregnant women and sent necessary instructions to the centres

Bangladesh began its mass vaccination drive in February using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India.

India halting exports of vaccines had put Bangladesh’s inoculation drive in doubt as authorities stopped giving out the first doses in April. At one point, administering the second dose, too, was suspended.

The vaccination drive was once again up and running following the arrival of Sinopharm vaccines from China. But 1.52 million people who had received the first shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine were left out.

Japan has also sent more than 2.35 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine under the global vaccine-sharing platform COVAX.