How Bangladesh plans to inoculate the masses after receiving COVID vaccine

  • Obaidur Masum, Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2021-01-23 23:07:03 BdST

Bangladesh’s anticipation for the coronavirus vaccine drive is about to end with the planned inoculation of a nurse at the Kurmitola General Hospital in Dhaka on Jan 27.

Another 24 individuals, including frontline health workers, freedom fighters, teachers, doctors and journalists, will also be vaccinated that day.

Health Secretary Abdul Mannan has said that five hospitals in Dhaka will begin an initial inoculation process of 400-500 people the following day and the nationwide vaccination programme will kick off on Feb 8.

The Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Kurmitola General Hospital, Mugda General Hospital, Kuwait-Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University will administer the initial vaccine shots in the capital.

According to the Directorate General of Health Services, COVID vaccine doses will be distributed as per a guideline prepared by the government. Some changes may be made if the situation calls for it.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque visited on Sunday, Dec 27, 2020 the DGDA lab set up for testing medicines and vaccines in Dhaka’s Mohakhali. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove

Initially, Bangladesh was supposed to administer five million doses in the first month of immunisation, the shipment of two million free doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from India altered the plan, Director General of Health Services Dr ABM Khurshid Alam said.

Bangladesh will now roll out six million doses in the first month and five million doses in the second.

In the third month, six million people will get their second doses of the vaccine, Alam said.

STORAGE

The two million doses which India shipped as a gift are preserved in Tejgaon’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation or EPI storage, while the 30 million imported doses will arrive via Beximco Pharmaceuticals across six months.

A freezer van carrying Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, produced by the Serum Institute of India and shipped to Bangladesh by neighbouring India as a gift, is heading towards the EPI storage in Tejgaon from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Thursday, Jan 21, 2021. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove

Beximco will store the purchased doses at its warehouse and send them to district-level authorities in six phases.

Nazmul Hassan, managing director of Beximco Pharma, earlier said that they purchased seven special trucks to transport the vaccines around the country, while more were on their way.

The DGHS will be in charge of distributing the vaccines to Upazila level after the EPI receives and stores the drugs in their storages in the 64 districts. From there, the doses will be transmitted to 483 Upazila-level storages.

The vaccines will be preserved in ice-lined refrigerators in EPI storages. For transportation to the Upazila-level facilities, the authorities will use cold boxes.

Shamsul Haque, a director of DGHS, said they have several thousand of cold boxes, so there will be no need for special trucks.

WHO WILL GET FIRST?

The government plans to inoculate 80 percent of the country’s population, or around 138.24 million people.

According to the national COVID vaccine distribution and preparation plan, the doses will be administered in five stages.

In the first stage of the initial phase, 3 percent of the population will be vaccinated, while 7 percent will go through immunisation in the second stage. Then in the second phase, 11.2 percent will be inoculated.

In the first stage of the third phase, 21.4 percent will be jabbed with two doses before another 41.8 percent of the population is immunised in the last stage.

Based on the primary plan, the health directorate has created a list of distribution reflecting the availability of the vaccines over the months

As many as 452,027 doctors, nurses and other health workers at government facilities will get the vaccine first.

Around 600,000 health workers of the private facilities will also get the vaccine in the first phase.

The priority list also includes 210,000 freedom fighters, 180,457 members of the military and civil defence forces, 25,000 government employees essential in running the state, 25,000 journalists, 89,149 public representatives, 75,000 officials and other employees of city corporations and municipalities, and 37,500 funeral workers will get the vaccine doses in the first month.

The others who will get the vaccine in the first month include 200,000 workers of the utilities, sewerage services, fire service and airports, 75,000 of the ports, 60,000 unskilled expatriate workers, 200,000 government staffers engaged in emergency work at districts and Upazilas, and 10,932 from the national sports teams.

The government will keep aside 70,000 doses as buffer stock for emergency or to tackle sudden outbreak.

After receiving the additional doses, the government has decided to relax the criteria for the vaccine, such as lowering the minimum age to 75 from 77, said DGHS’ Shamsul.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO DO TO GET YOUR SHOTS

For registration for the vaccine, a citizen will first need to download the Surokkha app on their mobile phone from Google’s Play Store or Apple’s App Store. They can also get registered on the surokkha.gov.bd website from any device.

They will need to provide necessary information, such as NID number, date of birth and mobile phone number, before clicking “verify”.

They will also need to provide health information, such as if they are comorbid, or suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer or kidney complications, or have been infected by the coronavirus.

They will require selecting whether they were involved in the COVID-19 fight directly.

The authorities will choose the vaccination centre for a citizen-based on their current address.

After clicking ‘preserve information’ button, the citizen will get an SMS confirming the registration. The applicant can then download the registration card anytime with a one-time password sent to their phone.

This card must be shown to the authorities while taking the shot.

Those, who will not be able to register online or through the app, will need to visit the hospital, said Khurshid, the director general of health services.

6,500 VACCINATION CENTRES

The government will conduct the drive through 6,500 centres across the country.

The 4,600 Union Parishad offices, 600 Upazila health complexes, hospitals with 20 or 10 beds, and 400 general hospitals, specialised hospitals, medical colleges, and infectious diseases hospitals will be used for the vaccination.

In city corporation areas, 800 centres will be set up at specialised hospitals, medical colleges, infectious diseases hospitals, ward councillor officers and city health centres.

There will be 100 vaccination centres at various other facilities, including the Combined Military Hospitals, Police Hospital, Secretariat Health Centre, and Parliament Secretariat Health Centre.

Initially, the vaccination will continue at the hospitals and Upazila health complexes. DGHS medical technologists and other workers will carry out the drive.

As many as 20,800 health workers, assisted by 41,600 volunteers, will be directly involved in the drive.

For transportation of the vaccine, the government will use 5,469 porters and 8,869 supervisors.