PM opens Covid vaccination today

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the Covid-19 vaccination campaign in Bangladesh on Wednesday with a nurse to take the first jab at the Kurmitola Medical College and Hospital in Dhaka.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque, visiting the hospital on Tuesday to see the preparations, said 25 people will be vaccinated at the hospital around 3.30pm on Wednesday. A dry run of the vaccination has been carried out at the hospital.

On Thursday, 500 medical staff in five hospitals – Kurmitola, Kuwait Maitree Hospital, Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Mugdha Medical College Hospital and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University – will be vaccinated before the nationwide inoculation which will begin on February 7.

The government earlier devised a plan for a nationwide drive with a target to give two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine – eight weeks apart - to each of over 130 million people targeted to reach in five stages.

All will have to register themselves though

On Monday, the government received 5 million doses of Oxford vaccine from the Serum Institute of India as part of the tripartite purchase deal between the health ministry, Beximco Pharma and the vaccine maker.

This is the first consignment of the 30 million doses planned to buy under the deal. Five more batches containing 5 million in each are scheduled to arrive in phases over the next few months.

Earlier, the government received two million doses as a gift from India.

According to the EPI, the immunisation authorities in Bangladesh, will administer the vaccine in 6 million people first. One million doses will be kept for the second dose which will be given after the arrival of another 5 million doses as second consignment.

The second shot will be administered two months after the first jab as per the Oxford-AstraZeneca guidelines for its vaccine.

The Directorate General of Health Services has already sent a letter to all the agencies concerned asking them to prepare a list of eligible people of different strata to be vaccinated in the first phase.

There will be no vaccination centres outside the government hospitals.

Private hospitals will be able to take the permission as a vaccine center if they maintain certain criteria as part of the precautionary measures to treat any adverse reactions.

A cell has been set up to regularly circulate information about vaccination through a bulletin, according to the health secretary.

The government will also conduct antibody tests on the vaccinated people to see how long the Covid antibodies last.

Everything related to the Covid vaccination will be controlled through a mobile app called "Shurokkha".

Director General for health services Prof Abul Bashar Mohammed Khurshid Alam said no one would be allowed to receive the vaccine doses without online registration.

“This is to preserve and compile the data of vaccine recipients for using that for analyses,” he said, asking people to take both the doses from the same centre.