A large number of eligible people are yet to get booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine amid the fresh surge of the deadly pathogen across the country.
“It depends on vaccination centre to get the booster dose. It will be late to get the booster dose at the centre where most people have been vaccinated. On the other hand, where there are fewer people, it will be sooner,” Dr Md Shamsul Haque, Line Director (MNC & AH) of DGHS, told the Daily Sun.
Around 89-year-old Hafijur Rahman, a resident of Bashundhara area in the capital, received his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine from Kurmitola General Hospital on May 6 last year but he didn’t get any SMS yet from the vaccine centre to receive the booster dose of the vaccine.
“We are administering the booster dose of the corona vaccine gradually based on serial of receiving the second shots. The eligible people who received their second shots six months before will get the booster dose,” said Dr Shahabuddin, Superintendent of Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Govt. Hospital.
The health ministry said the eligible people can receive the booster dose of the vaccine from their vaccination centres where they took the first dose and second dose. However, the selected vaccine recipients will get SMS from their respective vaccination centres to receive the booster dose. Administering the booster dose of the vaccine will continue at a time along with regular vaccination activities at all vaccine centres across the country, including in Dhaka, the ministry added.
Prof Dr Ahmedul Kabir, additional director general (administration) of DGHS, said one eligible person will be inoculated with the booster dose after every five regular vaccination in each centres.
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said people aged 60 and above, patients with serious co-morbidity and frontliners, including healthcare providers, law enforcers and journalists, are eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine booster dose in the country.
“They only have to show documents proving their underlying health conditions to receive the booster dose. We want to give priority to people with cancer, those who have taken anticancer drugs, those who have received radiation, chemotherapy, and other immunocompromised patients," he added.
The DGHS sources said it is also considering reducing the age limit from 60 years for people to be eligible for the booster dose immediately in a bid to ensure maximum protection of maximum people during the ongoing fresh surge of the coronavirus infection transmission in the country.
Earlier on December 19 last year, Bangladesh administered the booster doses of the vaccine as trial case, as part of its measures to fight the pandemic in the wake of the worldwide spread of Omicron.
Later on December 28, the country officially began administering booster doses with Pfizer vaccine.
However, the DGHS in a statement on Thursday asked the authorities concerned to use Moderna vaccine as the third or booster dose instead of Pfizer vaccine at all vaccine centres across Bangladesh.
The DGHS data available in its website updated on January 12 said the government has aimed to inoculate 13,82,47,508 people or 80 percent of the total population of the country with the Covid-19 vaccine.
Of the target, a total of 8,20,52,930 people or 59.35 percent received the first dose, 5,55,25,322 people or 40.16 percent received the second dose and 1,23,833 people or 0.09 percent received the third or booster dose.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said booster doses are administered to a vaccinated population that has completed a primary vaccination series when, with time, the immunity and clinical protection has fallen below a rate deemed sufficient in that population. The objective of a booster dose is to restore vaccine effectiveness from that deemed no longer sufficient.
According to the US CDC, it recommended that adolescents aged 12 to 17 years should receive a booster shot 5 months after their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series. Covid-19 boosters help broaden and strengthen protection against Omicron and other SARS-CoV-2 variants, it added.