Ministry says it has enough doses to start boostersMinister for Health and Population Birodh Khatiwada is set to announce a Covid vaccine booster programme today.
The Ministry of Health and Population said that it has sufficient doses of Covid-19 vaccines to start booster shots to the whole population vaccinated six months ago.
Minister for Health and Population Birodh Khatiwada said that he would announce the booster programme on Friday.
“I am going to announce the booster programme tomorrow [Friday],” Khatiwada told the Post. “We have sufficient doses to start booster shots to all.”
The Health Ministry started the booster programme for frontline workers—doctors, nurses, paramedics, lab technicians, hospital staff and ambulance drivers—on January 16.
Journalists, bureaucrats, lawmakers, staffers of diplomatic missions and financial institutions, prisoners, people living in old age homes, and refugees who were vaccinated in the first phase of the immunisation campaign starting January 27 last year were also administered booster shots.
Currently, people above 60 years, who were jabbed with the Vero Cell vaccine and those with compromised immunity have been getting the booster shot.
Officials had said that people over 50 years of age residing in densely-populated areas and big cities are likely to get booster shots, once the current booster programme for people over 60 years concludes.
“We have sufficient doses to start booster shots to everyone inoculated some six months ago,” Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, director at the Family Welfare Division, told the Post. “More doses are also coming and we have received assurances of sufficient doses for our booster programme.”
According to the Logistics Management Section under the Department of Health Services, there are 9,638,034 doses in the central, provincial and district stores across the country.
“Over 1.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive next week,” Dr Surendra Chaurasia, chief of the section, told the Post. “Four million doses of the Sinovac vaccine will also arrive soon.”
Earlier, officials said they were informed that the doses would be supplied by February 7.
“The shipment might have been delayed due to the Chinese New Year,” said Chaurasia.
Officials are also expecting 6.2 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from the COVAX facility, the United Nations-backed international vaccine-sharing scheme.
A source at the Health Ministry said that the facility could supply more than 6.2 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The Pfizer vaccine can be stored in temperatures up to minus 80 degrees Celsius in the central storage facility and in normal temperatures (2 to 8 degree Celsius) for up to 31 days.
Officials at the Logistic Management Section informed that the government has the capacity to store upto 1 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and with UNICEF set to provide additional five ultra cold freezers, the storage capacity will double.
“We will have capacity to store two million doses of Pfizer vaccine once UNICEF delivers five ultra cold freezers,” added Chaurasia.
Currently, the Health Ministry has been using the AstraZeneca vaccine for second doses and booster shots, due to a lack of vaccines manufactured by other companies.
So far, 16,071,226 people or 55.1 percent of the total population have been vaccinated fully. Number of people above 18 years old who have been fully vaccinated are 14,712,470, which is 73.8 percent.
On Thursday, 1,369 people tested positive to Covid-19—1,013 in 8,880 polymerase chain reaction tests and 356 in 3,000 antigen tests.
In the last 24 hours 12 people died of Covid-19 infection.
Active cases stand at 29,004 throughout the country.
Public health experts said that all people who were inoculated six months ago should be administered with booster shots.
“Some countries have already started fourth doses, booster shots are needed for all people, who were inoculated six months ago,”said Dr Biraj Karmacharya.
“As the vaccine seems to be a reliable means to prevent severity and deaths, it will be better to administer as early as we can.”