Tuesday, 27 September, 2022

Procedure on to bring in syringes for Pfizer administration


By Sampada A. Khatiwada
Kathmandu, Jan.1: On December 24, Nepal received 660,560 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines from the United States under the COVAX facility.
The Ministry of Health and Population had planned to administer the Pfizer vaccines to children aged 12 to 17 in eight districts across the nation including Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Lalitpur from December 28, Tuesday.
However, due to the lack of syringes required for inoculation, the government’s plan to roll out the Pfizer vaccines to children amid Omicron threats got stalled.

Dr. Rabindra Pandey, a public health specialist, said, “The syringes were supposed to arrive together with the Pfizer vaccines. But, as only the vaccines arrived, the vaccination programme was halted in lack of syringes and diluents.”

Stating that the risk of spread of Omicron variant was on the rise in many countries across the nation, Dr. Pandey said, “Nepal can be safe from the possible Omicron outbreak only if it can intensify vaccination campaigns.”
“Thus, there should be no negligence by the government in ensuring vaccines and all other healthcare materials required for vaccination, especially for unvaccinated groups, including children, as they are at a greater risk,” said Dr. Pandey.

Meanwhile, Sagar Dahal, chief of the National Immunisation Programme, said, “While other vaccines require 0.5 ml syringe, a 0.3 ml syringe is needed for the administration of Pfizer vaccines.”
He said, “The syringes were not sent along with the consignment that arrived on December 24. Thus, owing to the scarcity of syringes, we were compelled to postpone the inoculation drive.”

Meanwhile, the government has already initiated the procedure to import syringes from the COVAX facility itself.
Director of the management division under the Department of Health Services, Dr. Rudra Marasini, said that the procurement procedure to bring in the syringes was underway.
“A total of 64,650 syringes are arriving on January 4,” he said. The 0.3ml syringes are being brought to Nepal under the COVAX facility.

He said, “The nozzle will be used to inoculate Pfizer vaccine to children of 12 to 17 age group.   Dr. Marasini said that the vaccination campaign for children would resume as soon as the syringes arrived. Meanwhile, the diluent required for COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Nepal on Wednesday.

According to Surendra Prasad Chaurasiya, chief of the logistics management section of the Department, the vaccination drive targeted to children was affected by the scarcity of diluent as well. A diluent is a liquid composed of Sodium Chloride, which is used in thinning the Pfizer vaccine. “The liquid balances the chemical compositions present in the vaccine and increases its efficiency,” he said. “As the syringes are arriving on January 4, the vaccination campaign for children in eight districts is likely to begin form next week.”