People over 55, other priority groups to get Covid booster shotsAll health workers, pregnant women, those having compromised immunity and people suffering from chronic diseases are also listed for Pfizer’s bivalent Covid vaccine in the first phase.
All people above 55 years of age will be administered Pfizer BioNTech’s bivalent Covid vaccine as the Ministry of Health and Population decides to inoculate the most vulnerable population first.
Officials said all health workers, pregnant women, those having compromised immunity and people suffering from chronic diseases are also on the priority list and they will be administered the booster jab in the first phase.
“Due to limited doses of the vaccine in stock, we have decided to prioritise the booster jabs,” said Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari, joint spokesperson for the health ministry. “Once sufficient doses arrive, all people above 12 years will be jabbed with Pfizer BioNTech’s bivalent Covid vaccine.”
Nepal received 691,200 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s bivalent Covid vaccine from COVAX facility on Monday and Thursday (345,600 doses in each lot).
The consignments are part of the 1.5 million doses demanded by the Ministry of Health and Population with the United Nations-backed international vaccine sharing scheme for use as booster and second booster shots.
“We have already supplied vaccine doses to Gandaki Province,” said Dr Surendra Chaurasia, chief of the Logistic Management Section at the Family Welfare Division under the Department of Health Services. “Vaccine doses will be delivered to Sudurpaschim and Karnali provinces on Monday. Health authorities at the local level will start vaccination at their convenience.”
Earlier, the health ministry had requested provincial health agencies to demand the vaccine doses they need.
Pfizer-BioNTech’s is the only bivalent jab that has got an emergency use authorisation from the drug advisory committee in Nepal.
The bivalent Covid vaccine includes a component of the original virus strain as well as a part of the Omicron variant to provide a broad protection against Covid-19.
The vaccine is called bivalent Covid-19 shot as it contains two components—original virus strain and Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants. Doctors say a bivalent Covid-19 vaccine may also be referred to as an “updated” Covid-19 vaccine booster dose.
Health officials said the bivalent vaccines are part of the 9.2 million doses promised to Nepal by COVAX. The facility has supplied more than three million doses so far.
According to Chaurasia, 345,600 doses of the Covid vaccine will arrive on Monday and Thursday. The remaining doses will be delivered on February 27.
Though the said vaccine needs to be stored in minus 80 degrees Celsius, it can be kept in two to eight degrees Celsius for 30 days after it is taken out of the storage.
So far, Nepal has used Covid-19 vaccines developed by the University of Oxford and the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, manufactured in various countries of Europe, India and Japan, the Chinese Vero Cell, and the US-made Janssen, Moderna, and Pfizer-BioNTech.
As many as 12,020 Covid-related deaths have been reported in Nepal, according to the official count. The health ministry said as many as 22,324,933 people, or 76.5 percent of the total population, have been fully vaccinated.