Booster jabs for 12–17-year-olds being rolled out from todayThey were inoculated with the second dose of Covid vaccine three months ago.
Children and adolescents between the age of 12 and 17 years in Kathmandu Valley are set to get their Covid booster shots after around two months of the Health Ministry’s decision to vaccinate the target group.
Officials at the Health Office Lalitpur said preparations are on to roll out jabs for the age group who were inoculated with the second dose of Covid vaccine three months ago.
“We have completed all necessary preparations to administer booster shots for 12-17 year olds from Monday,” said Satis Bista, chief of Health Office Lalitpur. “Vaccine doses will be administered from the schools, from where the doses in primary series (first and second doses) were administered.”
The Ministry of Health and Population had decided to provide booster shots to the said age group in the first week of June following a recommendation by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee.
But due to the reluctance of the agency concerned to allocate the budget for vaccination campaigns for the said age group on time, health agencies had been unable to administer the jabs.
Health Offices of some districts said they could not run the booster campaign for children between 12 and 17 years because of overlap with the vaccination campaigns for different age groups.
“The Health Ministry launched a vaccination campaign for children between five and 11 years and a booster campaign for adults simultaneously,” said Bista. “We could not launch the campaign for the 12-17 year olds as the same manpower has to be employed for all health programmes.”
Meanwhile, officials at the Health Office, Kathmandu say they will kick off the booster campaign for 12-17 year olds next Sunday.
“We plan to administer the booster shots from schools from next Sunday,” said Basanta Adhikari, chief of the Health Office, Kathmandu.
The Health Office, Kathmandu has started administering the second dose of the vaccine to children between five and 11 from Sunday, which will be continued for a week.
However, Lalitpur Health Office said that the second dose of vaccination for children between 5 and 11 years would start once the booster dose for 12-17 year olds is complete.
“We cannot run the vaccination campaign simultaneously for two age groups due to the risk of mix-up in the vaccines,” said Bista, the chief of Health Office Lalitpur.
Two types of Pfizer vaccines—purple capped for those above 12 years old and orange capped for those between five and 11 years—are in use in the country.
Officials said that children receiving Pfizer vaccine as booster shot would be administered 0.3ml and those receiving Moderna vaccine will get 0.25ml as a booster dose.
The Health Office, Bhaktapur said that booster shots have been provided through the regular Covid vaccination programme, but very few people are taking the shots.
“We too have to launch the vaccination campaign for 12-17 year olds as very few people have been taking the shots,” said Krishna Bahadur Mijar, chief of Health Office Bhaktapur. “Currently we are busy administering second doses to children between five and 11 years.”
The government had provided Covid-19 jabs to 12-17 year olds in 20 districts including the three districts of Kathmandu Valley from November 22, after a poor response to the vaccination drive from the priority group—people with compromised immunity.
Moderna jabs were administered to children of 57 districts from December 20.
Around 3.5 million children and adults of the said age groups were administered Covid jabs from schools.
Officials at the Health Ministry claim that only 27 districts, where the vaccine was administered to children between five and 11 years, are currently facing problems in the administration of booster shots to children between 12 and 17 years.
The ministry has planned to launch the vaccination drive for children aged 5-11 years in the second phase in the remaining 50 districts.
Meanwhile, officials at the Health Ministry sought the help of lawmakers to convince people to take the booster shots.
A parliamentary committee under the National Assembly on Sunday inquired officials about the low uptake of booster shots, wastage, expiration of vaccine doses, and surge in new Covid cases.
“We request lawmakers to help us increase the uptake of booster shots,” said Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, director at the Family Welfare Division under the Department of Health Services. “At the meeting on Sunday, we told lawmakers that there is no shortage of vaccine doses and that people are not seeking booster shots.”
Due to the low uptake of the booster shots, thousands of vaccine doses, especially doses of Covishield and Moderna, have either gone to waste or expired, officials said.
So far, 7,138,922 people or around 24.5 percent of the total population have been administered booster shots.
The Health Ministry said that 20,523,367 people or 70.3 percent of the total population have been fully immunised.
On Sunday, two people died and 347 others tested positive for the coronavirus—303 in polymerase chain reaction tests and 44 in 1,528 antigen tests.
Active cases stand at 3,177 in the country.
Nepal launched its vaccination drive on January 27 with 1 million doses of Covishield, the AstraZeneca type vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, provided by India in grant.
The country has so far received 58,891,970 doses of Covid vaccines of various brands—AstraZeneca, Vero Cell, Moderna, Janssen, Sinovac-CoronaVac, and Pfizer-BioNTech—including pediatric doses.