1.74 million 12-17 year olds being given Moderna vaccineOfficials: Children in 20 districts including those in Kathmandu Valley to get Pfizer jabs.
Over 1.74 million children aged between 12 and 17 years in 57 districts are being immunised with the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine starting Sunday.
The Ministry of Health and Population said that no untoward incident was registered until Sunday evening.
“We have activated our AEFI committees [committee on adverse effect following immunisation] to monitor any untoward incidents,” said Dr Sangita Mishra, spokesperson for the Health Ministry. “No incidents have been recorded until this evening.”
Among the districts covered by the vaccination campaign in Province 1 are Taplejung, Sankhusabha, Solukhumbu, Okhaldhunga, Khotang, Bhojpur, Dhankuta, Tehrathum, Panchthar Ilam and Udayapur. In Province 2, the campaign has been launched in Siraha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat and Bara.
In Bagmati Province, the jabs are being provided in Dolakha, Sindhupalchok, Rasuwa, Dhading, Ramechhap, Nuwakot, and Makawanpur districts.
In Gandaki Province, the campaign covers Gorkha, Manang, Mustang, Myagdi, Lamjung, Tanahun, Nawalparasi East, Syangja and Parbat districts.
The campaign has been launched in Rukum East, Rolpa, Pyuthan, Gulmi, Arghakhanchi, Palpa, Nawalparasi West, Kapilvastu and Bardia districts of Lumbini Province.
In Karnali Province, Dolpa, Mugu, Humla, Jumla, Kalikot, Dailekh, Jajarkot, Rukum West and Salyan districts have been covered by the campaign.
In Sudurpaschim Province, the vaccine is being provided in Bajura, Bajhang, Darchula, Baitadi, Doti, Achham and Kanchanpur districts, according to the Health Ministry.
Local authorities of the districts are tasked with fixing the locations for vaccination centres.
Officials said they have suggested setting up immunisation centres in a way to ensure that each centre covers at least 100 children in mountain districts and at least 200 children in the hill and Tarai districts.
Vaccination will continue until December 28. Officials, however, said that districts can end the campaign before the deadline if they are able to administer the vaccine to the target population earlier. Districts are also allowed to halt the Covid vaccination campaign for a few days if necessary to allow regular vaccination of infants and children.
“We have rolled out the Covid jabs ensuring the second doses,” said Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, director at the Family Welfare Division of the Department of Health Services. “Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine will be administered to the children in the rest of the districts.”
However, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination campaign will not be launched in all districts simultaneously. The ministry has been planning to give Pfizer-BioNTech jabs first in eight districts including the three in Kathmandu Valley, Kavrepalanchok, Chitwan and Dadeldhura with the doses set to be received from COVAX.
COVAX is expected to supply 640,000 doses of the vaccine by December 24.
Officials said that children in other districts will be administered the Pfizer vaccine once they are received from COVAX or other sources, or the US manufacturer of the vaccine from which the government has purchased 6 million doses.
Officials said that they had expected delivery of Pfizer doses from the US pharma company within December.
“We got the Moderna vaccine unexpectedly and the vaccine is fit for children so we could start the vaccination drive now,” said Lal. “If we get additional doses of the Moderna vaccine before the arrival of Pfizer doses, we can change the decision and roll out Moderna doses in the remaining districts.”
More children are expected to be jabbed with Covid vaccines as they will be provided at schools and this could increase vaccination coverage.
“Health authorities should also make extra effort to find out the populations, who have not yet been vaccinated due to various reasons,” Dr Baburam Marasini, former director at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, said.
As schools and other academic institutions have resumed in-person classes, public health experts have warned that schools could be the new epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
Nepal so far has received 31,195,090 doses of Covid-19 vaccines—Vero Cell, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, including an additional 1,457,650 doses delivered on Thursday from Germany.
Nepal needs to vaccinate around 78 percent of its over 30 million estimated population, or around 25 million people. Since 4-5 million Nepalis are said to be living abroad, the number of people who need to be vaccinated is estimated to be around 20 million.
So far, 9,623,001 people (31.7 percent of total estimated population) have been fully immunised.