KARACHI: The Sindh government is set to launch a Covid-19 vaccination drive in the province on Wednesday (today) as it received the first batch of the Sinopharm vaccine from the federal government on Tuesday.

The consignment of 84,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine — part of the half a million doses gifted by the Chinese government to Pakistan — was handed over to the Sindh health department staff at the Jinnah International Airport.

According to the health department, a total of 54,000 front-line healthcare staff of both public and private sectors will initially be inoculated in the first phase at nine centres of Sindh, including seven in Karachi.

“The department has deputed sufficient staff strength at vaccination centres to complete the first phase in three days. Each individual will receive two vaccine doses with a gap of 21 days,” said health department spokesperson Atif Vighio.

The second vaccination phase would kick off as soon as more vaccines were available, he added.

Responding to a question about the federal government’s assurances in this respect, he said it had assured the provincial authorities that the second batch of Covid-19 vaccine would be available within two to three weeks.

“The department has identified a total of 175,000 healthcare providers to be vaccinated in phases depending upon the availability of the vaccine. Later, people over 65 years of age will be inoculated.”

According to the health department, the drive will initially be launched at nine selected centres of three divisions being looked at as high-priority areas, which have so far reported the majority of coronavirus cases.

In a statement, Sindh Minister for Health and Population Welfare Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said the Chinese vaccine had reported 90 per cent efficacy and it’s important that all healthcare providers get vaccinated against coronavirus voluntarily.

“Those who wouldn’t opt for the vaccination wouldn’t be allowed to be part of the healthcare system,” said the statement.

The minister also announced honorarium for the staff deputed at adult Covid-19 vaccination centres.

Meanwhile, the government has planned a ceremony at a facility set up at the Dow University Hospital, Ojha campus, on Wednesday morning.

The vaccination drive will be launched by Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah along with health minister and secretary health Dr Kazim Jatoi.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2021

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