Migrants to get Pfizer, Moderna vaccines
Good news for Bangladeshi migrant workers!
The health ministry has decided to inoculate those heading towards Saudi Arabia and Kuwait with Pfizer vaccines against Covid-19.
Bangladeshi migrants have long been demanding their vaccination with any of the Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccines, and the government has finally moved to vaccinate them -- initially with Pfizer and then with Moderna vaccines.
"We have decided to provide migrant workers [for Saudi Arabia and Kuwait] with the Pfizer vaccines," Prof Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told The Daily Star yesterday.
He said the workers would get Pfizer vaccines initially. "But when Moderna vaccines arrives in the country, they will also be inoculated with that vaccine."
The government initially planned to give the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to the migrant workers, but problems arose when the countrywide vaccination got suspended due to vaccine shortages.
Later, when the government received Chinese Sinopharm vaccine as a gift from the China government, it decided to vaccinate the workers with them.
But the migrant workers pointed out that Saudi Arabia government has not approved Sinopharm vaccine. So the migrant workers would have to stay in hotel quarantine after landing in the Gulf country at their own costs.
Another Gulf country Kuwait also said they would not allow any migrant workers if they were not jabbed with any of the four vaccines -- Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson.
The health DG said that the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment would send the list of the migrant workers to the DGHS.
"We will then ensure that they all are jabbed," he said.
Welcoming the move, Ali Haider Chowdhury, former secretary general of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira), said although they demanded Johnson and Johnson vaccine but this Pfizer vaccine was also good for the migrant workers.
"We thank the government. Migrant workers can now save Tk 70,000-80,000 as they don't need to stay in quarantine," he said.
Health officials said since the arrival of the Pfizer vaccine, people have started lobbying to the health officials to get the shots.
The first consignment of 1.06 lakh doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Bangladesh as part of the global vaccine initiative COVAX on May 31.
Later, the government started administering Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine at three centres in Dhaka -- Sheikh Russel Gastro Liver Institute and Hospital, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and Kurmitola General Hospital.