The Financial Express

Stepped-up inoculation drive  

| Updated: July 27, 2021 21:40:44

Stepped-up inoculation drive   

It makes one feel upbeat to learn that almost immediately after fixing the minimum age eligible to receiving Covid-19 vaccines at 30 years of age the government is mulling lowering the threshold further. It is the latest development in the Covid prevention sector of Bangladesh. The earlier decision came from the virtual meeting of the Covid Vaccination Programme Committee held on July 18. The proposed minimum age is now set to be lowered at 18. The minimum age for vaccine eligibility was 35 not long ago. Undoubtedly, the putting into effect the minimum inoculation age at 18 will surely benefit immensely the senior students at higher secondary stage, as well as those at universities. But the meeting sources said it would be part of a gradual process. The government's final goal can be presumed. It comprises full opening of the school education starting from the secondary level and going down to the primary stage. However, it will require huge numbers of medics, and infrastructural strength. The smooth availability of vaccines may also remain an imperative.

Although Bangladesh at present lags behind many developed and developing countries in its vaccination achievement, it is said to be stepping into a stage of better faring. With vaccine doses coming from different sources, along with the setting up of jointly-run projects, the outlook appears to be free of the previous gloom --- if not bright quintessentially. It's true a large segment of the general people has yet to realise the benefits of compliance with the health guidelines with many avoiding vaccines by offering alibis; but a rising number of people are spiritedly coming forward to get inoculated. The reason, indisputably, lies in the fast increase in the Covid-19 infections and deaths throughout the country. The long-held myth of outlying villages remaining corona-free has already been busted.

At present, barring the abrupt gap, disruption as well, created by the non-arrival of AstraZeneca vaccines from the Serum Institute of India, Bangladesh can now be termed fully operational in its inoculation programmme. The country received 245,200 AstraZeneca vaccines from Japan on July 24. On the other hand another 3.0 million Chinese vaccines are expected to arrive in late July. In total, 30 million Chinese doses have been earmarked for Bangladesh. The government now hopes to provide vaccine coverage to 80 per cent of the country's population. The health minister has said that the government arranged 210 million vaccine doses in total. All of them are set to reach Bangladesh by next year.  Meanwhile, an American company has confirmed a large number of Moderna shots for Bangladesh. So have Johnson and Johnson and the Russian Sputnik producer. Bangladesh is poised to receive 6.0 million more Pfizer vaccines in August under the Covax facility initiated by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The country has already received a consignment of 100,620 dosage of Pfizer medicine under Covax. The vaccine alliance has so far provided Bangladesh with a total of 4.5 million doses.

By setting a grand vaccination target, the government appears to have embarked on a challenging task. Till now the country has vaccinated a minuscule segment of its population but the next phase is poised to be critically important. The US has inoculated 43.3 per cent of its total population. The sharp contrast has to be overcome. Bangladesh needs to put in a lot of proactive efforts in its vaccination campaign. With vaccine supplies now in fuller gear, the outlook appears to be bright.         

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