Published:  11:08 AM, 13 August 2021 Last Update: 12:38 PM, 13 August 2021

Vaccine in demand, management in shambles

Vaccine in demand, management in shambles

Janomot desk: At the second day of mass vaccination campaign, people wait in long queues to be vaccinated against Covid-19 at a centre at Tantibazar area in Dhaka on 8 August 2021. 

At the second day of mass vaccination campaign, people wait in long queues to be vaccinated against Covid-19 at a centre at Tantibazar area in Dhaka on 8 August 2021. Dipu Malakar

There is a steadily growing demand among the people for the vaccination against coronavirus, but the health department is unable to keep pace with this demand. Over 15 million (1.5 crore) people have registered for the vaccine and are waiting for their jabs. As the number of registered people mounts, the mismanagement mounts too. Public health experts point to a lack of preparation and weakness in management for this situation.

The expanded programme for coronavirus vaccinations ended on Thursday. In the six-day drive, over 5,566,000 persons were vaccinated. Officials of the Directorate General Health Services (DGHS) told Prothom Alo, there is no plan to expand the vaccine drive though a similar programme at the moment. However, the health department is making an effort to increase the vaccinations.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, head of the Covid-19 vaccine management committee, Meerjady Sabrina, said there were basically two objectives behind the expanded vaccination drive. Firstly it was to vaccinate as many people as possible in the shortest possible time. Secondly, it was to vaccinate the people in the villages who had greater need for the vaccination. Those objectives have preliminarily been met.

An expatriate worker was given a Moderna shot at the Chattogram Medical College centre. His vaccine card also mentions Moderna. But his certificate from the ICT website says he received the Sinopharm vaccine

The health department started this expanded vaccination drive against coronavirus on 7 August all over the country. Other than at the regular vaccination centres, people were vaccinated at 4600 unions, 1054 municipal wards and 433 wards of 12 city corporations. And at the same time, 50,000 Rohingyas in the camps at Cox’ Bazar were also vaccinated.

Over these last six days, many of the vaccination centres were overcrowded. People stood in long lines in the sun and rain, waiting to be vaccinated. Some even waited overnight at the centres for their jab their next morning. Public health experts commented that this eagerness of the people indicated they had no qualms or doubts about the efficacy of the vaccine. Awareness of the pandemic prompted them to get vaccinated. But despite their desire, many people failed to get their shot.

People wait in queue in knee-deep water on the premises of Sonargaon upazila health complex, Narayanganj for taking Covid-19 vaccine

People wait in queue in knee-deep water on the premises of Sonargaon upazila health complex, Narayanganj for taking Covid-19 vaccineProthom Alo

Public health expert Be-Nazir Ahmed told Prothom Alo, The health department wanted to create public demand for the vaccine, but didn’t have an idea of what the response would be. Such circumstances give rise to discrepancies.

Registration vs. new plans

According to the ICT department, after Thursday evening, the number of persons registered for the vaccine stood at 31.5 million (3 crore 15 lakh). Of them, just over 15.3 million (1 crore 53 lakh) have been vaccinated. Another 16.2 million (1 crore 62 lakh) are waiting for the vaccine.

COVAX was prepared to provide 6 million (60 lakh) Pfizer vaccines, but Bangladesh could not collect all of these as it was not prepared to store these vaccines at the required temperature

Under the expanded programme it has been possible to vaccinate a large number of people in a short time, but the number of people registered in this time who are awaiting their jabs has increased manifold. The health department has just over 8.2 million (83 lakh) vaccines in stock at the moment. At an event on Thursday, health minister Zahid Maleque said 5.4 million (54 lakh) vaccines would come in a week’s time. Around another 5 million (50 lakh) would arrive by the end of the month.

People wait in queue for Covid-19 vaccine without maintaining health guidelines at a Dhanmondi centre, Dhaka on 8 August 2021

People wait in queue for Covid-19 vaccine without maintaining health guidelines at a Dhanmondi centre, Dhaka on 8 August 2021Suhada Afrin

Meerjady Sabrina told Prothom Alo that those who have registered for the vaccination are being given priority. Sub-centres are being planned for the regular centres in order to step up the daily vaccinations.

However, health department officials have said that a programme like last week’s vaccination drive will not be repeated any time soon. Those vaccinated under this drive will be given their second dose in September. Vaccinating will be increased by then.

Lack of management

Resident of Uttara in the capital city, Jamil Bin Siddiqui registered on 24 July to be vaccinated at the Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital centre. Till last night he hadn’t received any SMS for a date. A woman had registered a month ago at the Savar upazila health centre and she too has not been informed of any date as yet.

There are many more complaints. An expatriate worker was given a Moderna shot at the Chattogram Medical College centre. His vaccine card also mentions Moderna. But his certificate from the ICT website says he received the Sinopharm vaccine. The Chattogram Medical College authorities have told this expat worker that they will not be able to correct this error. Now he is unable to go abroad.

People returning from Jannat Academy High School centre in Mirpur-11, Dhaka as the supply of Covid-19 vaccines exhausted on 8 August 2021

People returning from Jannat Academy High School centre in Mirpur-11, Dhaka as the supply of Covid-19 vaccines exhausted on 8 August 2021Prothom Alo

A woman in Satkhira told Prothom Alo that she had been unable to go to the Satkhira Medical College centre on the scheduled date but she received an SMS on her mobile phone informing her that she had received her jab. A man in the capital city said his wife had received both her shots at the Dhaka Dental College centre, but is unable to get her certificate from the website. There are many such instances. The more the registrations, the more the complaints will increase, is the prevailing apprehension.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of all sorts of mismanagement during the expanded programme for immunisation against coronavirus. These complaints have mostly been heard at the ward-based centres in the cities. The wards each had allocations for 300 to 350 vaccines daily, but a few thousand people would turn up every day. At the outset, DGHS has said that the people would have to wait for 20 to 30 minutes at the centres after the vaccine and there would be facilities for them to wait. But most wards had no such facilities.

Lack of preparation had led to such mismanagement, say public health experts. As an example, they pointed out that the global initiative COVAX was prepared to provide 6 million (60 lakh) Pfizer vaccines, but Bangladesh could not collect all of these as it was not prepared to store these vaccines at the required temperature.

Leave Your Comments



Latest News


More From National