The government is fighting against the time to obtain the large target of inoculating 70 lakh people in the first month of its Covid vaccination campaign. On the other hand, the working-class section in Bangladesh is still struggling with the registration process for the nationwide vaccination campaign.
Even many locals are unaware of the registration requirements. Lack of smartphones and internet proving to be a significant barrier to registration – experts are saying.
“People from low-income groups and other backward groups are at the greatest risk of exposure, but there appears to be no urgency to get the vaccine in them. There are several reasons for this, chief of which is lack of smartphones with internet and the knowledge of how to register on the Surokkha website,” said public health expert Be-Nazir Ahmed.
“The vaccine may be free of cost, but they still cannot avail it,” he added.
As of 4th March (Thursday), 35.81 lakh people received their first shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. With the number, the government has achieved 51.15 per cent of the target yet for the first month ending this week.
However, the matter of concern regarding inoculation campaigns was lower participation of women compared to men. Out of the total inoculated persons, 12,87,100 are women. It indicates a little more than half the number of the men who got inoculated.
Meanwhile, a total of 47,70,953 people have registered on surokkha.gov.bd; 65 per cent of the government target for the first month.
Bangladesh is doing well in terms of vaccination and management – according to the global context. It now stands at the 18th position with 3.58 million people inoculated till 4th March (Thursday).
On the contrary, the US holds the worldwide inoculating chart’s top position as with 82.57 million people vaccinated. The UK secured the second position (21.95 million) and India the third position (18.01 million).
The countries have been ranked based on the number of vaccines administered doses per 100 people in a country. Bangladesh secured the 22th position with 2.17 percent of its population immunized. Israel tops the list (98.85 percent) followed by the United Arab Emirates (62.73 percent).
70 lakh people will be vaccinated in the first month of the mass vaccination campaign that started on 7th February – as per the National Vaccine Deployment Plan.
Previously, 59.85 lakh vaccine shots were distributed to 64 districts, shows data of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
According to the division-wise distribution list, Khulna has emerged as the top performer among the eight divisions by inoculating 77.45 per cent of the target population of 588,000.
On the other hand, Mymensingh is at the bottom of the list, achieving only 30 percent of its target population of 504,000.
Dhaka holds the second position with inoculation of 70.71 percent of its target population of 15,72,600, followed by Chattogram with 61.24 percent of the target population of 12,56,000 inoculated.
Analyzing the trend of vaccination across the country, experts say the people living in urban areas are more responsive than those in rural areas.
They recommended setting up more vaccination centres in rural areas as well as taking online registration support to people’s doorstep to accelerate the vaccination campaign.
Prof Ridwanur Rahman, an infectious disease specialist, said, “There are multiple reasons behind the slow pace of vaccination. People are seeing the registration process as a burden.
“Another key reason is the inadequate number of vaccination centres. There is a need for providing door-to-door registration service in addition to setting up vaccination centres in remote areas,” he said.
Dr Shamsul Haque, member-secretary of the Committee for the National Covid-19 Vaccination Campaign at the DGHS, said they allocated vaccine doses, considering the population of each district.
“Some districts are moving fast to achieve the target while some are not. We are revising the vaccine allocations for the districts based on their success in achieving the inoculation target,” he noted.
Earlier, DGHS officials said the campaign would continue at more than a thousand vaccination centres across the country for 12 working days in the first month.
“We are not rigid with the timeline. We may need more time to reach the target for the first month. We are going to inoculate the teachers and students… Hopefully, the pace of vaccination will be faster,” said Shamsul.
Bangladesh started the vaccination campaign with 70 lakh doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in hand. In January, the government received the first consignment of 50 lakh of the three crore doses of Oxford vaccine it purchased from the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Besides, Bangladesh got 20 lakh doses of Oxford vaccine from the Indian government as a gift the same month. It also received 20 lakh doses of Oxford vaccine from SII on February 23.
The country is also expected to get 1.09 crore Oxford vaccine doses from Covax for free in different phases till May.
The government set a goal of inoculating 70 lakh people in the first month of the campaign after revising the target twice.