The government plans to inoculate 3.2 million people against COVID-19 in six days as part of the expanded vaccination campaign covering unions and wards across Bangladesh.
The immunisation drive will run in each district for a day from Aug 7-12, reports bdnews24.com.
“The government is going to expand the outreach of vaccinations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” ABM Khurshid Alam, director-general of health services, said at a media briefing in Dhaka on Friday.
“As part of this, the first dose of vaccine will be given to about 3.2 million people in more than 15,000 vaccination centres across the country over a six-day period.”
Health Minister Zahid Maleque had previously promised to vaccinate about 10 million people during the mass vaccination drive but the target was scaled back at the last minute.
Bangladesh is seeking to strengthen its mass vaccination campaign amid a record surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths. Apart from providing access to the vaccine to people in rural areas, the government has also lowered the age limit for vaccination to 25.
Despite talk of reducing the age of eligibility to 18, the government decided against it in a bid to avoid “chaos”, according to Khurshid Alam.
“Many 18-year-olds do not have voter ID cards. This will create chaos. Therefore, the age of vaccination has been fixed at 25 instead of 18. Those who have already registered will get the vaccine at the designated centre.”
Vaccines will also be administered to people who have not been able to register as long as they are at least 25 years of age, he added.
“However, women and people with disabilities in their 50s and people in remote areas will get priority in this regard.”
The vaccination drive will be carried out in all unions, municipalities and city corporations of the country from Aug 7. The doses will be administered in remote areas on Aug 8 and 9, while members of the forcibly displaced Rohingya community over the age of 55 will be inoculated from Aug 10 to 12.
Although there is a shortage of vaccines in the country, the government is determined to inoculate everyone, said Khurshid Alam. Measures are also being taken to produce the vaccine in the country.
He called on all citizens to cast aside any “negative feelings and superstitions” and take the vaccine.
“If we can’t do a large-scale vaccination campaign, we won’t be able to cover a large portion of the population. This is a pilot project for us. We are learning from this.”
So far, more than 19.9 million people have received their first shot of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the health directorate.