Authorities aim to raise vaccination coverage to 33 percent by next monthWith more shots arriving, officials hopeful of scaling up drive to inoculate more people against Covid-19.
On Monday, immunisation workers deployed by Gokarneshwar Municipality in Kathmandu visited a 78-year-old bed-ridden man at his home and vaccinated him against Covid-19.
The man, a resident of Ward 7 in the municipality, was unable to visit the vaccination centre on his own, as he was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and had to take supplemental oxygen all the time.
“Although he was eligible for vaccination in the second phase of the immunisation campaign, he was deprived of the vaccine due to his poor health,” Hari Sharma, health coordinator of the municipality, told the Post.
Gokarneshwar Municipality has started a doorstep immunisation programme targeting the bed-ridden elderly and differently-abled persons.
Public health workers say that it is the right approach to increase the vaccination rate and protect the vulnerable population against Covid-19.
Thanks to the doorstep immunisation programme, a 72-year-old woman, who had recently undergone a heart surgery, also got her Covid-19 jab at her home.
“We have found hundreds of people in our municipality who have been deprived of the vaccine for various reasons,” said Sharma. “Had we not sent immunisation workers to their homes, these people would have been deprived of the vaccine.”
The municipality is coordinating with organisations of the differently-abled persons to facilitate the vaccination programme. The municipality is also administering the vaccine from the offices of these organisations.
Along with the bed-ridden elderly and disabled persons, the municipality has also started looking for unvaccinated people including those working in factories and the construction sector.
“We administered Covid-19 vaccine to 516 workers at a carpet factory,” Santosh Chalise, mayor of the municipality, told the Post. “Such people are highly vulnerable, as they work in crowded conditions.”
Besides, the municipality is also inoculating specific professionals like schoolteachers and transport workers by inviting them to vaccination centres on particular days.
With all schoolteachers of the municipality vaccinated, the municipality was the first in the Kathmandu Valley to reopen schools and resume in-person classes.
“Gokarneshwar Municipality has a population of around 124,000 and we have administered over 100,000 doses of vaccine so far,” Chalise said. “Most people from the eligible age groups have taken the first dose and around 50 percent people have been fully immunised.”
The Ministry of Health and Population said that it aims to administer Covid-19 vaccine to at least 33 percent of the population by Dashain, which is a month away.
So far, 5,603,757 people (over 18.67 percent) have taken the first dose of the vaccine and 5,012,821 people (over 16.7 percent) have been fully vaccinated.
The government’s plan to vaccinate 33 percent of the population before Dashain is not difficult as most of the targeted populations have received the first dose of the Vero Cell vaccine. The second dose of the vaccine has to be administered within a month.
Health Ministry officials have said that 4.4 million doses of the Vero Cell vaccine will arrive from China within a week.
The vaccine is part of the 6 million doses the government has purchased from China. Of the 6 million doses, 1.6 million doses have already been received.
“We have been assured of the delivery of the remaining 4.4 million doses within a week,” Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, director at the Family Welfare Division under the Department of Health Services, told the Post.
The government plans to roll out the doses soon after their arrival.
Public health experts said that authorities should expedite vaccination to achieve the target.
“If people are unable to visit the vaccination centres, the authorities should administer the vaccines at people’s doorsteps,” Dr Baburam Marasini, former director at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, told the Post. “To meet the vaccination target the authorities should work proactively like some municipalities that have sent health workers to people’s homes.”
The number of infections and deaths from the coronavirus have been declining of late, and experts say this could be due to fewer tests being conducted or many people already have antibodies.
Doctors say the authorities should take advantage of this lull in infections and vaccinate as many people as possible.
“We should not forget that the coronavirus has taken hold in our communities and it will not go anywhere easily,” Dr Prabhat Adhikari, an infectious disease and critical care expert, told the Post. “Authorities should expedite the vaccination drive and administer the jabs to as many people as possible.”