All students above 18 to be jabbed with Covid-19 vaccineAll those eligible in 10 mountain districts to get shots. Manang, Mustang and Rukum East fully immunised.
With the arrival of 4.4 million doses of Vero Cell vaccine from China, the Ministry of Health and Population has decided to immunise all students above 18 years old.
The Ministry has also decided to jab all people above 18 years old in 10 mountain districts—Darchula, Bajura, Dolpa, Humla, Mugu, Jumla, Rasuwa, Solukhumbu, Sankhuwasabha and Taplejung.
“Population sizes of the said districts are small and vaccination cost will be too high in those districts,” said Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari, joint spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population. “So we have decided to administer vaccines to all eligible people.”
Once vaccination is completed in the ten districts, the number of fully immunised districts will reach 13. All eligible people from Manang, Mustang and Rukum East districts have already been immunised with the coronavirus vaccine.
Kavrepalanchok and Chitwan districts have decided to administer the vaccine to all people above 35 years old.
“These two districts have already provided the jabs to people above 40 years old,” said Sagar Dahal, chief of National Immunisation Programme. “The vaccine rollout plan has been made as per the national deployment and vaccination plan.”
The vaccine will be provided to all people above 40 years in all three districts of the Kathmandu Valley—Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, and Makawanpur, Ramechhap, Sarlahi, and Achham districts.
The rest of the districts will provide the vaccine to all people above 45 years old, according to Dahal.
Frontline workers and those serving in essential sectors, who have not yet taken the jabs due to various reasons can also take the vaccine from the narby immunisation centers, the Ministry of Health and Population said.
The ministry has decided to roll out the vaccine from Monday throughout the country.
The ministry aims to inoculate at least 33 percent of the total population before Dashain.
‘“We will meet the target easily,” claimed Dahal. “We have already crossed 25 percent of the total target we had set before the rollout of the vaccine.”
The government has decided to provide Covid-19 vaccine to 72 percent of the total population or all people above 15 years old.
So far 5,578,865 people have been fully vaccinated, which is 18.59 percent of the total population and over 26 percent of the 72 percent population eligible for vaccination.
The Health Ministry said that 6,203,316 people have taken the first dose of the vaccine, which is over 20.6 percent of the total population.
“The vaccine rollout plan has been made by ensuring the second dose,” Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, director at the Family Welfare Division, told the Post. “We do not like to take risks like with the Covishield vaccine. All people who take the first dose of the Vero Cell vaccine will get the second dose on time.”
According to Lal, China’s Red Cross is also providing 100,000 doses of Vero Cell vaccine to the Nepal Red Cross, which will be used by the government. The vaccine is scheduled to arrive within September 25 but the delivery date could change, as the ongoing Delta outbreak in China could lead to flight postponement.
The Health Ministry hoped that a large quantity of vaccines would be provided by the Covax facility in the third quarter of 2021. Covax, a UN backed international vaccine sharing scheme, has committed to provide 13 million doses to Nepal, sufficient for 20 percent of the total population.
So far, the facility has provided 3,497,590 doses of vaccine (1,614,740 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from Japan, 1,534,850 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccine from the USA and 348,000 doses Covishield vaccine from India).
Amidst the decline in the new cases of coronavirus infection and rise in vaccination coverage, complacency has grown in all sectors. Life has returned to almost normal with schools, gyms, stadiums and public transportations among other things resuming their services just like before the pandemic.
Public health experts warned that even if the percentage of the vaccinated population is growing, the risk of infection has not lessened and the vaccine does not ensure 100 percent safety against the contagion.
“Vaccine does not ensure 100 percent safety and we are nowhere to think about booster shots,” Dr Prabhat Adhikari, an infectious disease and critical care expert, told the Post. “We should not forget what is happening in America.”
Despite being one of the first countries to start the immunisation drive against Covid-19, Nepal is still recording hundreds of infections and several deaths every day.
“Yes, coronavirus has not gone anywhere and is circulating in communities. The risks have not lessened,” Adhikari, joint spokesperson for the Health Ministry, told the Post. “We should keep following the safety measures, which save us from getting infected and dying.”
Nepal so far has received a total of 17,755,590 doses of Covid-19 vaccines. Of them, 4,422,740 doses were AstraZeneca type, 11,800,000 doses were Vero Cell, and 1,534,850 doses were the Janssen vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson.
The government has already paid for 4 million doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine through the World Bank to the US manufacturer, and delivery is expected by mid-February.