Second Covid booster shots being given to all interested above 12 yearsNine persons have died from Covid-related complications since April 11.
After all efforts to increase the uptake of Covid vaccine failed, health authorities nationwide have begun administering jabs to everyone above 12 years of age.
Health workers have started administering the vaccine to all those seeking the jab, although the Ministry of Health and Population has not yet changed its priority list for the second booster shot.
“Everyone above 12 years of age who is eligible for vaccination can get the jab,” said an official at the Health Ministry, asking not to be named since he is not authorised to speak to the media. “We have allowed health authorities in the districts to take their own decision on the priority list.”
People above 55 years, all health workers, pregnant women, those having compromised immunity and people suffering from chronic illnesses are on the priority list of the Health Ministry for vaccination. The ministry had devised a priority list as only a limited doses of the Covid vaccine were available.
Currently, Pfizer BioNTech’s bivalent Covid vaccine is being administered as a second booster shot. Pfizer-BioNTech 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 broad protection against Covid.
The vaccine is called a bivalent Covid shot as it contains two components—the original virus strain and Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants. Doctors say a bivalent Covid vaccine may also be referred to as an “updated” booster dose.
“Very few people are seeking second booster shots, so we have not deprived anyone seeking vaccination,” said an immunisation officer at the Health Office Kathmandu.
Sagar Ghimire, chief of the Health Office Kathmandu, said that even though an official decision has not been taken to administer second booster shots to all, immunisation workers have not deprived anyone from getting vaccinated. “We will take an official decision to administer the vaccine to all people above 12 years of age at the earliest,” he said.
Earlier, on March 22, 23 and 24, health offices of Kathmandu and Lalitpur had launched a campaign to increase the uptake of second booster shots.
In Kathmandu, the vaccine doses are being administered at the hospitals of the Nepal Army, the Armed Police Force, Bir Hospital, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital and the Civil Service Hospital. The jabs are also being administered from the central office of the Nepal Red Cross Society.
Meanwhile, the Logistic Management Section at the Family Welfare Division under the Department of Health Services said that it has requested an additional 1.5 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent vaccine from the COVAX facility.
“Supply schedule of the vaccine doses has not yet come, but we have already requested additional vaccine doses,” said Dr Surendra Chaurasia, chief of the section. “We have around 200,000 doses of the vaccine in the central store and around 600,000 doses in the provincial and district stores.”
So far, Nepal has used Covid 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 12,028 Covid-related deaths have been reported in Nepal, according to the official count. The Health Ministry said that as many as nine persons have died from Covid infection since April 11.