Mass Vaccination: Age bar to be lowered to 18 years
The government is planning to lower the age limit for Covid-19 vaccination to 18 years from 30, Prof ABM Khurshid Alam, the director general of the health directorate, said yesterday.
"The health minister has already instructed us to find a way to reduce the age bar to 18 years. We will devise a way," Khurshid told journalists while visiting Covid patients at Mugda Medical College Hospital in the capital.
His comments came days after the government decided to lower the minimum age for Covid vaccination to 30 years from 35 on July 18.
Asked whether the government is capable of storing all Covid vaccines as supplies have increased recently, Khurshid said, "We have enough storage capacity. We are also trying to accelerate the inoculation campaign so that the storage capacity is not exhausted."
He said those who have not received the second jab of the AstraZeneca vaccine will get it gradually once it becomes available again soon. A shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine is set to arrive in the country today under the Covax facility.
Urging people to get vaccinated, he said, "We talked to several elderly Covid patients at Mugda hospital. None of them had taken the vaccine."
Once someone gets vaccinated, it is unlikely that he or she would need hospitalisation even if infected with the virus, he said.
He further said patients from other districts are rushing to Dhaka though hospitals outside the capital have enough capacity.
Regarding the vaccine campaign in rural areas, he said the government is planning to simplify the registration process.
"We have a plan to give the Covid vaccines in the same way we give other vaccines, without NID cards. We are trying to make the vaccination process easier."
Asked whether the government is capable of handling a further surge in Covid cases, the DGHS DG said, "I cannot say whether we will be able to handle the situation properly..."
He urged the journalists to keep reassuring people. "We have to assure people that the government is ready with doctors, nurses, and necessary logistics. Otherwise, they will become frustrated."
Khurshid also said the country has necessary oxygen supplies in addition to imports.
"The demand for oxygen at normal times is around 80 to 90 tonnes, but now it has gone up to 200 tonnes. However, the country still has a supply of oxygen and is also importing from India."
About the impact of the "lockdown" during the first two weeks of this month, he said, "The previous two weeks did not have much effect [in reducing transmission]. However, transmission has decreased in the bordering districts."
"The effect of the lockdown will be evident within a few days," he added.
ASTRAZENECA JABS ARRIVE TODAY
A total of 2.45 lakh AstraZeneca vaccine shots will be arriving in Bangladesh from Japan today.
The doses are part of 2.9 million that Japan is supplying to Bangladesh under the Covax facility, a foreign ministry official said.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen will be receiving the consignment, which will be carried by Cathay Pacific Airways. The consignment is scheduled to arrive at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport around 3:00pm.
The arrival of the AstraZeneca shots will be a relief for some of the 15 lakh people who got their first dose but have been waiting for the second since April, after India had halted exports of AstraZeneca doses in March.
The Serum Institute of India had supplied only seven million of the initially contracted 30 million vaccines till then.