Bangladesh kicks off nationwide COVID vaccination drive

An expanded mass vaccination campaign is underway across the country to inoculate 3.2 million people against COVID-19.

Staff Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 7 August 2021, 05:54 AM
Updated : 7 August 2021, 06:27 AM

The programme began at more than 15,000 vaccination centres at 9 am on Saturday.

Large crowds were seen gathering at the vaccination centres to receive their first doses of the vaccine.

Although the campaign is supposed to run until 3 pm, the vaccination goal may be achieved earlier than that due to the high public interest, health officials said.

A woman receives her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Academy vaccination centre in the capital's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar on Saturday, Aug 7, 2021. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove

“Many people from villages have arrived to get vaccinated. We think that this mass immunisation programme will create a lot of excitement among the people,” Dr Shamsul Haque, member secretary of the vaccine deployment committee, told bdnews24.com.

The nationwide vaccination drive will continue in city corporation areas until Aug 9. Vaccine shots will be given at the union and municipal level on Aug 8 and 9. Doses will also 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.

“We have started the vaccination programme today. If it isn’t possible to conduct the campaign in an area today, we shall do it tomorrow. Nobody will be left out. We will run this six-day programme all over the country,” said Shamsul Haque.

People are being given the shots only after they have registered on the spot using their voter IDs, he said.

A health worker is filling up a form at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Academy in the capital's Sher-e-Bangla Nagar on the first day of a mass immunisation programme against COVID-19, Aug 7, 2021. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove

"If we find out that there is no mobile network in a remote area or there is no opportunity for registration, we will upload the information to our Excel sheet at night. This may be done for one or two areas. It is happening in Monpura.”

The government is planning to provide free vaccine shots to 140 million people to curtail the pandemic and prevent deaths.

Outside the gate to the Bangabandhu Academy in Agargaon’s Taltola, a long line of people wait to register for the COVID vaccine.

A young worker there tells the crowd that, although it is only 10:30 am, they have registered all those who will receive vaccines today. He urges them to return tomorrow and for anyone below the age of 25 to come back after Aug 14.

Officials at the centre say 350 people are to receive the vaccines each day. But that mark had already been exceeded on Saturday.

Lines from the vaccination booths wound themselves all the way outside the building.

Local youths and members of the Jubo League are going down the lines, gathering information from those waiting and writing up their vaccine cards.

Firoza Begum was waiting near the end of the women’s queue.

She works as a domestic aide to feed her two children and lives in West Agargaon.

She said she had not received the vaccine yet because she could not register. Once she heard that one could register and get the vaccine that very day, she came running with her national ID. But, even after waiting an hour, the line hasn’t moved her inside the building.

Khairun Nahar, another woman waiting nearby, came with her daughter-in-law. But her daughter-in-law was not allowed to get in line because she isn’t yet 25 years of age.

Forkan Hossain, councillor from Ward 28, was with other workers at the centre. A team from the Sher-e-Bangla Nagar Police Station is maintaining order in the area.

But the vaccination drive is proceeding slowly.