Kathmandu, Jan. 23: Now the new strain of coronavirus has been spreading rapidly, and the public health specialists have urged the government to intensify the vaccination drive and inoculate all people in order to prevent the risks. Nepal was one of the first countries in South Asia when it introduced the vaccination drive against COVID-19 on January 27 last year. In about a year now, according to the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), about 65 per cent of the targeted population have been inoculated with the full dose of vaccine.
As the government has targeted to vaccinate everyone by mid-April, only three months are left to administer the vaccines to the remaining 40 per cent targeted people. Besides, the government has added the children aged between 12 and 17 years and those aged below 12 years in the list of people to be vaccinated. It means more people than those who received the both jabs are left to be fully vaccinated. Again, the government has already started giving booster doses.
Considering this, the health specialists have said that the vaccination campaigns should be accelerated further to meet the set target of mid-April. It has already proven that vaccinated people are at less risk than those who have not received the jabs. As such, vaccines are the best option to save the people from COVID-19, and it is vital to make the anti-coronavirus vaccines reach each and every corner of the country. The five-day mass vaccination drive that is being launched from January 31 is one of the laudable steps of the government towards this.
Dr. Sher Bahadur Pun, chief of the clinical research unit at Teku Hospital, said that the vaccines developed against COVID-19 until now have been proven effective against the mutated strain of coronavirus. “Hospitalisation and fatality rate is low in the virus-infected patients who have been vaccinated,” said Dr. Pun. “However, the unvaccinated population is still at risk. Thus, it is high time the government intensified its inoculation drive to make sure that the target population is vaccinated as soon as possible,” he added.
Public health specialist Dr. Babu Ram Marasini said that all the government authorities, especially the COVID-19 Crisis Management Coordination Committee (CCMCC), should proactively make efforts in preventing and controlling the spread of the mutated strains of coronavirus.
He said, “The CCMCC should mobilise the local and provincial levels to provide assistance for the prevention, control, and treatment of the virus specifically by intensifying the vaccination campaign. The reach of provincial and local levels in each village and city should be utilised and everyone’s access to vaccines should be ensured.” Similarly, Dr. Prabhat Adhikari, infectious disease and critical care expert, said that the vaccination drive should be ramped up to inoculate everyone by mid-April. “The government, by all means, should speed up the inoculation drive as almost half of the population is yet to receive the full dose while only three months are left to meet the deadline of mid-April.”
He further added that instead of piling up vaccines, booster shots should be made available to the frontline health workers, senior citizens, and immune-compromised patients. As reported by the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), 64.6 per cent of the targeted population have been inoculated with the full dose of vaccine as of Saturday. Of the total population of Nepal, 53.5 per cent have received only one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 42.4 per cent have received the full dose.
Similarly of the targeted 19,923,164 population, 64.6 per cent have been inoculated with full shots and 81.5 per cent have been inoculated with the first dose. Of the total 40,388,840 vaccines imported to Nepal until now, the government has administered 29,143,816 doses of vaccines. Minister for Health and Population Birodh Khatiwada recently said that the country would not be in short of anti-coronavirus jabs.
Meanwhile the government has reiterated that it has been continuing its inoculation campaign to meet the target of administering vaccines to the target group by mid-April. In his televised address to the nation on Friday, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said that the government would vaccinate all eligible people by upcoming mid-April. “We have already ensured management of necessary human resources to make the inoculation drive smooth,” said PM Deuba.
He also clarified that the inoculation drive was continuing as per the government’s commitment to providing vaccines to all citizens by mid-April. “Also, around 1.8 million jabs have been distributed to children aged between 12 and 17 years and the jabs will be provided to children aged from five to 11 years soon,” the PM said. Health Minister Khatiwada also said that the government had taken the inoculation drive forward with utmost priority.
“We have prepared a plan to implement a vaccination campaign in all provinces more effectively,” said Minister Khatiwada. He added that temporary desks would be set up in public places to provide vaccination services to the public and local levels would be made active to make the government’s campaign successful. Dr. Samir Kumar Adhikari, assistant spokesperson for the MoHP, said that the ministry had made efforts to accelerate vaccination campaigns to prevent the risk of coronavirus. “Currently, we are capable of vaccinating 500,000 people a day.”
Dr. Adhikari requested the unvaccinated population to get to their nearest vaccination centres, take the jab and help the government in its battle against the pandemic.