• General healthcare workers, people above 60 years asked to get registered for vaccination
• NCOC reports 1,340 new cases, 36 deaths

ISLAMABAD: With 504,500 doses of Covid-19 vaccine having been dispatched to the federating units, Pakistan is expected to receive another 5.6 million vaccines by the end of March.

As so far only 72,882 frontline healthcare workers have got themselves vaccinated in the country, the government has decided to start registering general health professionals, too, from Monday (Feb 22) for the vaccination programme. The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Saturday announced that general healthcare workers could register themselves on www.covid.gov.pk/vaccine.

Also, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan announced the second phase of Covid vaccination. In a tweet, the PM’s aide said: “Pak Covid-19 vaccination, next phase — now that we have expected arrival of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in early March, all those 60 years of age and older are now requested to begin registration. Send CNIC as SMS to 1166. You will receive a reply with instructions on next steps.” The NCOC in a statement also announced the start of registration of citizens of over 60 years for the vaccine programme, with an appeal to senior citizens to text their national identity card numbers on 1166.

According to the NCOC data, Pakistan will receive 5.6m doses by the end of March, with 2.8m doses of Gavi/Covax expected in the first week of next month and another 2.8m doses by the second week. In all, 17.1m doses will reach Pakistan by the end of June.

Covax is an international alliance that has pledged to provide free vaccine to Pakistan’s 20 per cent population.

So far, the NCOC data showed, 204,000 doses have been dispatched to Sindh, 188,000 to Punjab, 44,000 to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 21,000 to Balochistan, 23,500 to Islamabad, 16,000 to Azad Jammu and Kashmir and 8,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been sent to Gilgit-Baltistan.

However, the pandemic continued to claim lives across the country as 36 more deaths were reported in the past one day while 1,340 new cases were confirmed. The number of active cases dropped to 24,081 and 2,050 of them were admitted to hospitals.

Typhoid vaccination drive ends

Also, the second phase of typhoid vaccination campaign concluded in Islamabad Capital Territory and 12 districts of Punjab after inoculating 13 million children between the ages of nine months and 15 years during the past 15 days.

The government had engaged 6,975 skilled and trained vaccinators along with 6,975 assistants for the vaccination campaign. Besides, a total of 13,950 social mobilisers visited various households to mobilise parents and caregivers to bring their children to vaccination centres.

During the campaign, the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) and Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme (PEI) had synergised immunisation efforts with the result that 4.3m children were also immunised with polio drops.

“We are glad to have achieved the set target,” Dr Sultan said.

The campaign signifies another achievement of the EPI and PEI teams integrating and effectively utilising available resources to strengthen the immunisation efforts across the country.

The number of typhoid cases registered in the country and the emergence of extensively drug-resistant typhoid is an alarming situation. It can, however, be controlled through Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine, which is a one-dose vaccine, injected intramuscularly at a low cost.

“It is a new vaccine and we are one of those lucky nations which have introduced it in the country to combat the deadly disease of typhoid and to provide better immunity to our children between the ages of nine months and 15 years,” the PM’s aide said.

World Health Organisation Representative in Pakistan Dr Palitha Mahipala said: “We highly appreciate the efforts of the health workers, vaccinators and the parents for all the support and cooperation in achieving the set target of the campaign.”

While lauding the efforts put in by the health workers, Director General for Health, Islamabad, Rana Mohammad Safdar said: “We appreciate all our health workers and vaccinators who worked hard during the campaign days to achieve the set target.”

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2021

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