Thursday, 26 May, 2022

Govt now aims to inoculate over 80pc population

Vaccination coverage exceeds WHO target with 75pc already jabbed

Exceeding the global target set by the World Health Organization (WHO) to inoculate 70 percent of a country’s total population against Covid-19 by mid-2022, Bangladesh is now expanding the programme to ensure that no eligible person remains out of the vaccination coverage.

Sources at health ministry said 75 percent people of the country have already been vaccinated and the government is now planning to inoculate over 80 percent of the total population to ensure that all eligible people get jab.

“The WHO set a target to inoculate 70 percent of the total population against Covid-19 by mid-2022 but we’ve already exceeded the target by vaccinating 75 percent,” Prof Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, additional director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun.

She said the government is now going ahead with a plan to inoculate over 80 percent of the total population. “That’s why we’ve applied to the WHO seeking approval for bringing children aged 5 years and above under the vaccination coverage. But we’re yet to get any reply.”

Mentioning that they have informed the WHO of their plan to vaccinate around 20 million children aged 5-12 years, the DGHS official said if they get the approval, they will revise the plan as they are yet to decide about which vaccine will be used can be administered among the children.

She further said their current target is to complete the administering of second and third or booster shots for all the vaccine recipients. “The administering of the first dose will continue as well.”

The DGHS conducted a three-day mega vaccination campaign across the country on February 26-28 to achieve the target to inoculate 70 percent of the total population against Covid-19.

A total of 15 million people were given vaccine during the special campaign.

Under the National Vaccine Deployment Plan, the government has been inoculating children aged 12-17 years and all general people aged above 18 in its nationwide vaccination programme against Covid-19.

“If we get the WHO approval, we’ll devise our new plan about inoculating children as low as 5. After the approval,  

we’ll also seek vaccine to administer among the children,” Dr Md Shamsul Haque, member secretary of Vaccine Deployment Committee, told the Daily Sun.

According to the DGHS report, a total of over 220 million vaccine shots have been administered in the country as of March 18 while 126,350,417 people have received first dose, 91,030,633 both doses and 5,742,800 people have received booster or third dose.

Talking to the Daily Sun, some health experts said if there is no problem of side effects or it is effective, children aged 5 and above should be inoculated against Covid-19 to bring the maximum number of country’s people under immunisation coverage, which will be helpful to combat the deadly pathogen.

“We’ve asked education ministry to prepare a list of primary students to inoculate them. We’ve also contacted WHO for its approval to this end,” Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque has told reporters recently.

In January, the government revised its vaccination target down to inoculate 119.2 million people or 70 percent of total population of the country while its primary target was 80 percent.

And now the plan is being revised to immunise over 80 percent of the total population, the DGHS sources said.

Zahid Maleque has recently said, “We’ve already inoculated 75 percent of the total population of the country. An amount of Tk 40 billion has been spent on purchasing and administering vaccine doses.”

The government has launched a special vaccination campaign from March 17 aiming to inoculate 32.5 million people by March 31, marking the birth anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Health ministry said people will now be eligible to take booster shot four months after receiving the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine. Eligible people can receive the booster shot without SMS, too.

The government has reduced the age limit for receiving the booster shot from 40 years to 18 years.

According to the WHO global target for vaccination, at least 70 percent of a country's population should get inoculated by mid-2022. It said the initial COVAX targets were expanded globally when WHO released the Strategy to Achieve Global Covid-19 Vaccination by Mid-2022 in October 2021. The global target was 40 percent total population coverage by the end of 2021, and 70 percent of total population coverage by mid-2022.

Bangladesh rolled out the nationwide vaccination programme with the first dose on February 7 last year after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Covid-19 vaccination on January 27.