Bangladesh rolls out its nationwide Covid-19 vaccine campaign on Sunday, February 7, 2021 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Cabinet members, top govt and health officials lead the nation in taking the shots of vaccine

Bangladesh has rolled out its nationwide Covid-19 vaccine campaign amid tepid responses from vaccine seekers.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque inaugurated the campaign at a virtual event at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) in Dhaka on Sunday morning.

Before the inauguration, the minister said the government is continuing its fight against Covid-19 and the condition of Bangladesh is now better than many other countries.

He, however, urged all not to spread propaganda against the vaccine as it is safe and has no side effects.

“The vaccine campaign will continue throughout the year. There is another process to get the jab other than online registration. People will be able to take the shots immediately after registering themselves at the vaccine centres,” he added.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque receives his shot of Covid-19 vaccine at Sheikh Russel National Gastroliver Institute and Hospital in Dhaka on Sunday, February 7, 2021 | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Later on, the minister took his shot of coronavirus vaccine at Sheikh Russel National Gastroliver Institute and Hospital around 11:25am.

Besides, Agriculture Minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin, Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain, DGHS Director General Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) President Dr Mustafa Jalal Mohiuddin, and Head of the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19 Prof Dr Mohammad Shahidullah were also vaccinated at the institute.

Also Read – Nationwide vaccination program starts Sunday

Besides, other ministers, justices and distinguished persons will also take the shot on Sunday at different hospitals in Dhaka.

The health authorities have also decided to administer second doses of the vaccine four weeks after the first jab, instead of eight weeks.

DGHS Director General Khurshid Alam on Saturday said a total of 2,400 vaccination teams would be deployed across the country – 204 teams at 50 vaccine centres in Dhaka and 2,196 teams at 995 centres outside the capital.

According to the instructions of the DGHS, 10 vaccination teams (eight on duty and two in reserve) will be deployed at Sadar hospitals of each district, while three teams (two on duty and one in reserve) will be deployed at other centres. Each team should be able to vaccinate 100-150 people per day.

It was initially planned for 6,725 vaccination teams to be deployed, with 619 teams in reserve. While the original deployment would have been able to vaccinate 670,000-1,000,000 people per day, the reduced number of teams should be able to inoculate about 360,000 people per day.

Meanwhile, the government has cancelled leave of health workers until February 10 due to the nationwide vaccination drive. 

Bangladesh received 7 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, 2 million as a gift from India and five million as part of a contract with the Serum Institute of India.

Awami League lawmaker Mahbubul Alam Hanif inaugurates the Covid-19 vaccination drive at Kushtia General Hospital on Sunday, February 7, 2021 | Collected

Lawmakers along with top administration and health officials took the first shots of vaccine inaugurating the vaccination drive in districts, including Kushtia, Narayanganj, Rangpur, Sylhet, Manikganj, Tangail, and Comilla. Later, the campaign was open to the public.

Narayanganj Civil Surgeon Dr Mohammad Imtiaz takes his shot of Covid-19 vaccine at Narayanganj General Hospital on Sunday, February 7, 2021 | Dhaka Tribune

In Narayanganj, the vaccination drive began with the jab taken by Civil Surgeon Dr Mohammad Imtiaz at Narayanganj General Hospital around 10:30am.

Some 600 people will be vaccinated on the first day.

Earlier, as many as 156,000 doses of vaccine reached the district on February 2.

Manikganj Deputy Commissioner SM Ferdous, Superintendent of Police (SP) Rifat Rahman Shamim, and Civil Surgeon Anwarul Amin Akhand receive the first shots of Covid-19 vaccine at the Nursing College centre on Sunday, February 7, 2021 | Dhaka Tribune

On-site registration, but no on-the-spot vaccination

After some initial reluctance, the DGHS has decided to allow registration at vaccine centres for those who are not tech savvy. However, people who register at the centres will not get the vaccine the same day. 

Tangail Deputy Commissioner Md Ataul Gani takes the shot of Covid-19 vaccine in the district on Sunday, February 7, 2021 | Dhaka Tribune

The vaccine registration website has been open to the public since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the vaccination campaign on January 27. 

The Surokkha app is yet to become available on the Google Play Store.

Dhaka Tribune Narayanganj correspondent Shamima Rita contributed to the report

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