Bangladesh will get 1.09 crore doses of the Oxford vaccine for free under the Covax facility by May.
These are part of the 6.8 crore doses the country will receive from the Covax. Officials hope that all of these will eventually be free.
Officials said the vials would arrive in several phases between March and May.
Health officials on November 25 last year said the government would be paying between $1.62 and $2 for each dose.
"A few days ago, Gavi informed us that the first 1.09 crore of the 6.8 crore doses will be free of cost. Hopefully, the rest will also be free," Health Minister Zahid Maleque told The Daily Star yesterday.
The Covax facility is a global initiative coordinated by the World Health Organization, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi, and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. The facility is working to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines to the low and middle-income countries.
With the 6.8 crore shots, roughly 20 percent of the population or 34 million people can be inoculated.
The Coalition on Tuesday published Covax's first round of allocations which would be updated by the end of the week to include tentative timelines for the supply of doses, split into February-March and April-May, according to the WHO website.
The allocation outlined the delivery of 237 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, manufactured by AstraZeneca and licensed and manufactured by Serum Institute of India, to 142 countries.
On December 7, the health directorate submitted Bangladesh's National Vaccine Deployment Plan to Gavi.
Bangladesh on July 7, last year, submitted an official Expression of Interest (EOI) to Gavi to get the vaccines from the Covax.
On September 18, Gavi announced that Bangladesh was eligible to get the vaccine.
The health minister yesterday said that the government will continue the first phase of Covid-19 vaccination until June or July.
Besides, the age restrictions will be lowered once more doses become available, he told reporters at his secretariat office.
Teachers and the students will soon be inoculated, he said.
According to the initially disclosed National Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Plan, a total of 1.5 crore people, including frontline workers and people aged 55 and above, would be inoculated in the first phase.
On February 6, the government allowed people aged 40 and above to register for inoculation against Covid-19 after noticing that only a fraction of the people eligible for the shots responded to the campaign.
The government planned to inoculate 60 lakh people in the first month. The target was set to 70 lakh after two revisions.
The private sector will be allowed to import and sell Covid-19 vaccine in the domestic market, but the government will continue providing the vaccine to the people for free.
Foreign citizens will get the vaccine from the government if they are listed by the foreign ministry, the minister said.
Meanwhile, the total number of people vaccinated rose to 34,60,159 as new 1,18,654 people were inoculated across the country yesterday.
As of 5:30pm yesterday, 46,55,464 people registered on www.surokkha.gov.bd to get the Covid-19 shots.
Bangladesh started a countrywide vaccination campaign on February 7 with a stock of 70 lakh shots. On February 22, the second shipment of 20 lakh doses of the purchased Oxford vaccines from Serum arrived here.