Vaccination kicks off in B’desh, Hasina thanks India for 2 mn doses
Dhaka, Jan 28 (IANS) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday thanked the government of India for the gift of two million doses of Covid-19 vaccine while virtually inaugurating the mass vaccination drive in the country.
A nurse named Runu Veronica Costa was administered the first vaccine dose in Bangladesh at the Kurmitola General Hospital (KGH) in Dhaka, watched virtually by the Prime Minister. Hasina also watched four others take the jab, before 21 more were vaccinated.
When many countries are waiting to begin vaccinating their citizens against Covid-19, Bangladesh has successfully launched the campaign with its limited resources, Hasina said.
Hasina said, “We have been able to procure the vaccine in time. Today is a historic day for Bangladesh, as many countries in the world are yet to start inoculating their populations. But we’ve done it despite having a dense population and limited economic power. Today it has been proved that we work for the welfare of the people.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has already claimed more than 8,000 lives in Bangladesh.
Earlier in the day, Hasina told the nation that Bangladesh will get 6.80 crore vaccines for 20 per cent of its population, which means 3.40 crore people, from the WHO Covax facility. The vaccines will be preserved in 64 district EPI stores and 483 EPI stores across the country, she added.
Bangladesh has also bought another 30 million doses of the vaccine from the Serum Institute of India and the first batch of 5 million shots has arrived.
Apart from Costa, four other government employees — Ahmed Lutful Moben, a doctor at KGH; Nasima Sultana, additional director general of health directorate (DGHD); Md Didarul Alam, a traffic police officer; and Brigadier General M. Imran Hamid of Bangladesh Army — also received the vaccine shot at the inaugural programme.
Hasina greeted each of them for their courage, asking whether they were afraid of taking the vaccine. She also regretted not being able to join the event in person.
The Prime Minister sought everyone’s cooperation to make the vaccine drive a success, saying that the rest of the doses will continue coming as per the deal.
Around 500 people will be vaccinated on Thursday and the authorities will observe them for at least a week following the World Health Organization protocol before starting mass vaccination on Feb 7.
Bangladesh Health Minister Zahid Maleque and top health officials were present at the hospital.
On Wednesday morning, Hasina unveiled the detailed vaccine roll-out plan in the Parliament. “In the first phase of vaccine distribution, a total of 1.50 crore people (8.86 per cent of the population) will get two doses of vaccine over a span of two weeks,” Hasina said.
She also mentioned that the possible vaccine recipients as per the priority list include 452,027 government health workers and 600,000 private health workers directly engaged in Covid-19 related health services.
The other priority groups of recipients include 210,000 freedom fighters, 546,620 members of the frontline law enforcement agencies, 360,913 members from the military and civil defence forces, 50,000 officials and employees working in the offices which are indispensable for governing the state, 50,000 frontline media personnel, 178,298 elected representatives, 150,000 frontline employees of the city corporations and municipalities, 541,000 religious representatives, 75,000 people engaged in funeral works, 400,000 staff engaged in emergency water, gas, sewerage, power, fire service and transport services.
Besides, 150,000 workers of land, river and airports, 120,000 expatriate unskilled workers, 400,000 government employees engaged in district and upazila-level emergency public services, 197,621 officials and employees of banks, 625,000 low immunity people (tuberculosis, AIDS and cancer patients), 10,326,658 elderly people from the 64-79 age group, 1,312,973 elderly people from the 80-plus age group, 21,863 players of the national teams (including football, cricket and hockey national teams) and 170,000 people from buffer, emergency and outbreak groups have been included in the list.