The government has decided not to proceed with walk-in mass-vaccination programme anymore to contain the spread of coronavirus, Health and Family Planning Affairs Minister Dr Zahid Maleque said on Monday.
"We're not going to use the word 'mass' in the inoculation campaign anymore, because we don't have that number of jabs. So, there will be no walk-in mass vaccination," he told reporters at the secretariat.
From now on, people receiving SMS after registering online through Surokkha App will be given the shots.
"We'll call a specific number of people, depending on the stock of doses, for vaccination. We do not want to see long queues in the vaccination centres."
Regarding the vaccination plan and supply of jabs, the health minister said the government is expected to immunise around 80 million people by next February, as it is set to receive 160 million doses of the virus antidotes by December.
Following a World Health Organisation (WHO) offer, Bangladesh placed an order to buy 105 million doses of Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines at a subsidised rate, while it would receive another 68 million shots at free of cost under Covax arrangement.
"We are expecting to receive the doses by December. If we receive 160 million doses, we will be able to vaccinate 70 million to 80 million people by next February."
About the gap period between the doses, the health minister said the Prime Minister instructed them to consider the possibility of giving the second dose within 15-20 days of the first shot.
"Our expert panel will consider it," he said, adding that they would allow administering vaccines to factory workers, depending on availability of the antidotes.
Report from bdnews24.com adds: The Directorate General of Health Services has advised citizens awaiting their second dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccine to swiftly take their shots.
In an emergency notice on Monday, DGHS said the vaccine seekers will be able to receive their second doses even if they do not receive an SMS confirmation from authorities.
Prof Mizanur Rahman, director of DGHS' Management Information Centre, said, "An SMS is supposed to be sent for second doses. Even if [vaccine seekers] don't get that, they can travel to the centres."
"They have to mention that they've already taken their first doses bringing their vaccine cards along. The vaccination workers will then administer the dose."
Bangladesh began its mass vaccination drive in February using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India.
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