Bangladesh delivers first COVID vaccine shot to 92.42m citizens

A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in Dhaka on Thursday, Jul 1, 2021. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove
The government is edging closer to its vaccination target, having administered at least one dose to over 92.42 million citizens through the nationwide campaign until Thursday.

It makes up 77.53 percent of the revised target of inoculating 120 million people under the COVID-19 vaccination programme, the Directorate General of Health Services said on Friday.

Over 58 million people, 48.65 percent of the population, received both shots of the vaccines.

The authorities have inoculated 2.89 million children aged 12-17 years. The target for this age bracket is 12.9 million.

Vaccine boosters are being administered to people aged above 60 years, frontline workers and groups at health risk.

Of the 170-plus million people living in the country, the government aims to provide vaccines to 70 percent, which is 119.22 million citizens.

The government initially planned to inoculate 80 percent of the population after Bangladesh reported the first cases of the coronavirus in early March, 2020.

But at a press briefing on Friday, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said Bangladesh now aims to vaccinate 70 percent of its population as recommended by the World Health Organization or WHO.

“We didn’t bring down [the target]. WHO instructed us to inoculate 125 million people which is about 70 percent of the population. We aim to do that,” he said.

“Around 10 million Bangladeshis are overseas. Some of them got their vaccines here, while others chose to take the shots abroad. Taking that into account, we’re on course to meet the target.”

“We’ve administered 151 million doses so far - 92.4 million first doses and 58 million second shots. We still have 90 million doses in hand. We’ve stocked up the doses to reach the target.”

“There was no WHO guideline when we planned the national vaccination programme. Now that WHO has set us a target, we are following it,” said Dr Shamsul Haque, member secretary of the DGHS’ COVID-19 Vaccine Management Taskforce Committee.

The government enforced a set of instructions in January following the emergence of the highly contagious COVID variant omicron.

Experts fear that people’s indifference towards the directives could worsen the crisis although the inoculation process is making progress.