Health Minister Zahid Maleque has said the government plans to inoculate 200,000 people per day after receiving the first shipment of coronavirus vaccine doses, reports bdnews24.com.
He reiterated that frontline health workers would be the first to receive the doses, adding ‘VVIPs’ would not be prioritised over them.
Maleque announced the plans after a meeting on the vaccine management at the Directorate General of Health Services in Dhaka on Tuesday.
Bangladesh purchased 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca from Serum Institute of India. The first shipment of imported doses -- five million -- is expected to arrive in Dhaka by Jan 25.
Ahead of that, two million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced by Serum Institute will be sent by India as a gift will arrive in Bangladesh on Wednesday.
Maleque said he would receive the shipment of free vaccines from India at the Dhaka airport himself.
“We are hoping that the shipment will arrive on schedule. It may arrive tomorrow, or the day after -- at the latest.”
Earlier, Director General of Health Services ABM Khurshid Alam said they would proceed with a plan to begin vaccination campaigns in all districts simultaneously after receiving the first shipment of the imported doses from India.
“We will first inoculate some health workers and observe them. It will then begin in all districts a week later. This is our plan,” Alam said.
If things go according to plan, the vaccination programme will kick off in the first week of February. The online registration for vaccination will begin on Jan 26.
On whether there could be a change of plan if the free vaccines arrive earlier, Maleque signalled that shots could start early as well.
“If we get earlier than scheduled what the Indian government promised, we will fast-track our programmes. Once it reaches us, we will begin our work countrywide. It will begin in Dhaka.”
The health minister said four teams would operate at the district level, two at the Upazila level, while six teams would work at medical colleges. Several other teams would work in hospitals and different government organisations.
“Around 28,000 volunteers will work in this project. Initially we thought of keeping the unions out. Approximately 200,000 people would be vaccinated in districts, Upazila and city corporation zones a day.”