A total of 31,160 people were inoculated on the opening day as the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination began in Bangladesh on Sunday.
Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque inaugurated the vaccination through videoconferencing from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) in the morning.A total of 31,160 people received their first doses of the vaccine across the country, according to the DGHS. Of them, 5,171 took the jab in Dhaka.
Bangladesh aims to vaccinate 3.5 million people against the deadly coronavirus in the first phase.
During the inauguration, the health minister also talked to deputy commissioners and civil surgeons of different districts as well as MPs.
“This vaccination programme will continue throughout the year as we want the country’s people to lead a normal life. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is the safest among all the jabs in the world,” he said.
Later at noon, the minister received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at Sheikh Russel Gastroliver Institute & Hospital in the
capital's Mohakhali area where five teams in five booths inoculated 162 people, including the VIPs and health care providers.Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque, Science and Technology Minister Architect Yeafesh Osman, Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain, President of National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 Dr Mohammad Shahidullah, Chief Coordinator of all the burn units in the country Dr Samanta Lal Sen, President of Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) Dr Mostafa Jalal Mohiuddin, its Secretary General Dr Ehteshamul Haque Chowdhury and President of Swadhinata Chikitsak Parishad Dr MA Aziz also took vaccine at Sheikh Russel Gastroliver Institute and Hospital.
Many other distinguished personalities, including Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, ministers, High Court justices and MPs, also received the vaccine at different hospitals in Dhaka and outside the capital on the opening day.
After taking the vaccine, Zahid Maleque said he as well as his colleagues who received the coronavirus vaccine was feeling well and there was no side effect of the vaccine.
"Many notable personalities have also taken the vaccine along with us. We sincerely thank them for receiving the vaccine. We’re all sound and doing well after getting inoculated. No side effects were observed. I haven’t even felt any pain in my arm," he said.
The minister said if there are any side effects, there is treatment and doctors and nurses remain ready.
Mentioning that the government has started the countrywide inoculation with 7 million doses of the vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India as Covishield, in stock, he said some 42,000 vaccinators and volunteers have been given training and 7,344 teams made ready to conduct the vaccination programme.
The vaccination has started in 1,005 hospitals across the country -- 50 in the capital and 955 outside -- where 2,400 teams are working, Zahid Maleque added.
Some 204 teams carried out the vaccination in the capital on the opening day, he said.
The minister said the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine will be given after a month or one and half months.
He, however, said the wearing of masks is a must even after receiving the vaccine.
Mentioning that a 2.51 per cent Covid-19 positivity rate was recorded in Bangladesh on Saturday which is the lowest in the world, Zahid Maleque said, "According to the WHO guidelines, if the infection rate is less than 3 per cent, it will go away slowly.”
He said the government has made arrangements to vaccinate those who live in remote villages as DCs and superintendents of police across the country have been instructed to bring those who are older than 55 for registration. “Vaccine means victory. We’ll achieve the victory against coronavirus through the vaccination,” he said.
If anyone fails to get the shot as per the schedule, he/she will be able to receive it later, said sources at the Health Ministry. But pre-registration is a must to get the vaccine.
Apart from website surokkha.gov.bd, people can register for the vaccination visiting inoculation centres, they said.
Expressing his feelings after receiving the vaccine, Dr Abdur Razzaque said, “I'm pleased and feeling happy after receiving the vaccine. This vaccine is safe. I'm feeling well and haven’t felt any side effect of it.”
Rezaul Karim said he has also not felt any side effect after receiving the vaccine. “All people of the country will get the Covid-19 vaccine. Let’s wear masks and receive the vaccine to overcome the coronavirus crisis.”
Yeafesh Osman and Shahab Uddin also said they have not felt any side effect after receiving their shots.
Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury received his first dose in Combined Military Hospital in Chattogram.
Speaking on the occasion, he urged all to receive the jab without being misled by rumours.
According to the DGHS, people will have to appear in hospitals between 8am and 2:30pm every day of the week except Friday to get the vaccine.
It said the front-line fighters and people above 55 years will get the vaccine in the first phase as per the priority list.
Those below 18, pregnant women, lactating mothers and those who have allergy to medicines will not be inoculated. And people, who have already been infected with the coronavirus, should not take the jab in four weeks. Those who are sick and are admitted to hospitals should not take the jab as well.
Ten vaccination teams (eight on duty and two on standby) have been deployed at Sadar hospitals each while three teams (two on duty and one on standby) at other centres, including upazila health complexes, each. Each team is able to vaccinate 100-150 people per day, according to the DGHS.
Each of the vaccination team is comprised of two vaccinators and four volunteers while the vaccinators include nurses, sub-assistant community medical officers and family welfare inspectors.
As the unused vaccine will expire after a certain period, the DGHS has reduced the gap between the first and second doses to ensure the use of the shots the government has already in stock.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the vaccination programme virtually on January 27 when 26 front liners received the Covishield vaccine in Kurmitola General Hospital. The following day, 541 others got the vaccine in five hospitals in the capital.