Schoolchildren aged 12 to 17 years will be inoculated against the fatal coronavirus under a special programme across the country from November 1.
“School students aged 12-17 years will be given Covid-19 vaccine across the country soon. The vaccination will start at 12 centres in the capital on November 1,” Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maelque said.
Mentioning that the schoolchildren will be given Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, he said as per their capacity, they can initially inoculate around 40,000 schoolchildren with coronavirus vaccine every day.
Zahid Maleque said initiative has been taken to vaccinate children in all districts gradually through increasing the vaccination centres with maintaining the freezing system in Dhaka and other districts.
He further said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already given directive to increase the vaccination centres for the children.
However, the health ministry sources said the vaccination for schoolchildren will run in 12 centres in Dhaka city and 21 centres outside initially.
“Pfizer vaccine requires ultra-cold system. Therefore, the work of vaccinating children aged 12-17 years will be started in all the districts of the country gradually by setting up the necessary freezing system,” the minister added.
Zahid Maleque said there is no crisis of coronavirus vaccine in the country now as more 55 lakh doses of Sinopharm vaccine arrived in the country early Tuesday.
“Now around two crore of coronavirus vaccine is now in our stock. We hope the vaccines will be coming in the next days in such way. So, it will be possible to fulfill 50 percent of the government’s target of vaccination against coronvirus within December,” he added.
The minister said during the vaccination of schoolchildren, the government’s regular vaccination programme against coronavirus also will run across the country as usual.
Earlier on October 14, some 112 schoolchildren were inoculated against Covid-19 in Manikganj as part of a trial run for vaccination of school students.
The health minister inaugurated the test run in Colonel Malek Medical College Hospital at noon.
Some 112 students of four government schools aged 12-17 received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Speaking at the inauguration function, Zahid Maleque said the Pfizer vaccine is being administered to children in the US, European countries and many other countries.
“This vaccine is very much safe. That’s why the trial run for vaccination of school students has been done with Pfizer vaccine. We want our children to be safe, too. Soon, schoolchildren will be brought under the vaccination drive across the country,” he said.
The minister said the government has already taken initiative to collect at least 24 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines from various sources, including the World Health Organization (WHO), Covax facility, Serum Institute of India and Sinopharm of China.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said they observed the vaccine recipients for next 10-14 days to see developing any side effects but they got no report of the side effects among the children.
Initially, the districts where Pfizer will be provided are Bhola, Jhalakathi, Barishal, Chattogram, Cumilla, Chandpur, Noakhali, Lakshmipur, Narsingdi, Gazipur, Tangail, Satkhira, Jashore, Mymensingh, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Sylhet, Sunamganj and Habiganj.
Of these, vaccines will be given at four centres in Chattogram, eight in Rajshahi, two in Noakhali, two in Chandpur, three in Narsingdi and two in Mymensingh.
DGHS sources said 26 more districts, including Gopalganj, Manikganj and Narayanganj, will be brought under the vaccination coverage in near future.
On January 27, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched the Covid-19 vaccination programme at Kurmitola General Hospital through videoconferencing.
The government rolled out the countrywide mass Covid-19 vaccination drive on February 7, vaccinating people aged 55 and above in the first phase.
On July 29, the government lowered the minimum age-limit for taking Covid-19 jabs to 25 from 30 years in a bid to give a boost to the lagging vaccination rates in the country.