The government has almost completed the groundwork for rolling out Covid-19 vaccine in the country early next month.
It gears up for the mass inoculation campaign as the first consignment of 50 lakh doses, purchased from Serum Institute of India (SII), arrived in Dhaka yesterday.
Officials said five public hospitals in the capital were all set to pilot the vaccination. They also said the hospital authorities had already trained 124 healthcare professionals and prepared designated places, where the shots would be administered.
"The prime minister will inaugurate the piloting at Kurmitola General Hospital on January 27 [tomorrow] at 3:30pm," Prof Nasima Sultana, additional director general of DGHS, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Registration for the mass inoculation can be done through mobile and web-based applications and the prime minister will launch the apps the same day, Nasima said, adding that the PM would join the inauguration virtually.
The mass vaccination across the country is scheduled to start on February 8. Bangladesh purchased three crore doses of Covishield, the coronavirus vaccine developed by University of Oxford and drug maker AstraZeneca, and manufactured by SII.
The procurement was done through a tripartite agreement signed between the government, Serum and its local partner Beximco Pharmaceuticals on November 5 last year.
The first batch of 50 lakh doses reached the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport around 11:15am by a special Air India flight, said Nazmul Hassan Papon, managing director of Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
"Samples from every batch will be sent to the government's drug testing lab. It will take 48 hours to complete the testing. After getting the approval, we will send the vaccine to different districts," Papon said, adding that the doses were taken to Beximco warehouses in Tongi from the airport.
Health officials said with the arrival of the government-purchased 50 lakh doses, they now have 70 lakh shots in hand and are fully focused on starting the piloting and the mass inoculation.
Bangladesh received 20 lakh Covishield doses as a gift from the Indian government on January 21.
A day after the piloting's inauguration, some 400-500 people would be given vaccine shots at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), Kurmitola General Hospital, Mugda Medical College Hospital, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) and Kuwait-Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital.
The Daily Star yesterday visited DMCH, BSMMU and the Mugda hospital for an assessment of the preparations.
The authorities of BSMMU were setting up eight vaccination booths at its convention centre, opposite Hotel Intercontinental at the capital's Shahbagh.
Inside the convention centre, which is awaiting inauguration, carpenters were seen building booths on the ground floor.
Besides, there will be registration booths, pre- and post-vaccination waiting spaces, and a CCU unit of eight beds in case there are any emergencies, officials said.
BSMMU Director Brig Gen Dr Zulfiquer Ahmed Amin said he, along with the university's vice-chancellor and pro-vice chancellor, would receive the jab on the first day.
"We have got a very good response. At least 350 doctors have expressed their willingness to be vaccinated and we've prepared a list of their names. But we have to pick 200 among our staffers," Zulfiquer said.
The BSMMU have more than 9,000 employees.
The director also said the vaccination would be voluntary and based on a few terms and condition regarding the recipients' physical condition.
He said there would be two mobile teams, comprising specialist doctors and nurses, at the vaccination centre.
"Now our focus in on January 28 or the next day following the inauguration of the piloting. Then we will be the part of the national vaccination campaign," he said.
A total of 1,200 people -- 150 in each of eight booths -- will be inoculated against the coronavirus at the BSMMU's vaccination centre every day from 8:00am to 3:00pm.
At the Mugda Medical College Hospital, there will be two vaccination teams in the pilot run. Besides, there will be three specialist doctors, including one cardiologist, one anaesthesiologist, and a medicine specialist, to supervise the campaign. The deputy director of the hospital will lead the campaign on site, said officials.
There will be pre- and post-vaccination waiting rooms for the vaccine recipients. Vaccination will be done from 9:00am to 3:00pm.
Dr Asim Kumar Nath, director of the hospital, told The Daily Star, "We have a total of 1,247 doctors, nurses and other staffers. We plan to vaccinate one hundred of them on the day after the inauguration."
DMCH authorities have selected the CBRN and Mass Casualty Management Centre at the underground of the emergency unit for the vaccination.
"We will vaccinate some 100 of our staffers at four booths there. Besides, we are preparing three other points at different places of the hospital for vaccination in the future," Col Nazmul Haque, director of DMCH, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) yesterday trained 84 doctors and nurses of DMCH, BSMMU and Mugda Medical College Hospital for the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
The DSCC arranged the training session at the capital's Nagar Bhaban.
Similarly, the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) also trained 40 doctors and nurses of Kurmitola General Hospital and the Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Hospital yesterday.
The DNCC organised the training session at Kurmitola General Hospital.
Officials of both city corporations told The Daily Star that there would be more vaccination centres at other healthcare-providing facilities.
HOW TO REGISTER
In order to register for the mass inoculation starting next month, people will have to fill out information through a mobile and web-based app called "Surokkha", developed by the Department of Information and Communication Technology, the Dhaka DC office, and the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
They have to download and use the app or visit the website (https://www.surokkha.gov.bd/), where they will have to choose the relevant type from around 19 categories of professions. After that, they will have to provide their NID card number and date of birth, said officials.
They also need to give details of their medical history -- whether they have diabetes, cancer, hypertension, or other diseases.
Besides, they need to input their present address and mobile phone number to which an OTP (One-Time Password) would be sent.
After entering the OTP, a "vaccine card" will be generated and it will mention where and when a person will receive the first and second doses of the vaccine.
Following the administration of both doses, a certificate would be handed to the recipient, added the officials.