Health minister asks people not to be misled by anti-vaccine propaganda

Published June 4, 2021
The health minister addresses the media in the Sindh Assembly building on Thursday.—PPI
The health minister addresses the media in the Sindh Assembly building on Thursday.—PPI

KARACHI: Expressing concern over the coronavirus situation in the province, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho at a press conference held on Thursday in the Sindh Assembly’s auditorium said that there had been no decline in Covid-19 cases and a major barrier to the vaccination drive against the disease was the misinformation about the vaccines being used for inoculation.

Accompanied by Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah and parliamentary secretary for health Qasim Siraj Soomro, she said: “Contrary to what’s happening in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the graph of coronavirus cases isn’t going down in Sindh as Covid-19 patients continue to fill up hospital beds,” said Dr Pechuho, adding that the situation could only be effective with mass vaccination against the disease and that the chief minister had given clear directives in that regard.

“The government has set a target of vaccinating 18 million people within three months for which it plans to accelerate the Covid-19 vaccination drive by engaging legislators, ministers, other politicians and district officials. PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will himself supervise the vaccination drive. The department will soon start a mobile vaccination service while the facility to get vaccinated at home is already available.”

The minister, however, regretted what she described as “false rumours” discouraging people to get immunised against the disease and said “all vaccines are safe and effective”.

‘A person with any document proving their identity can get the vaccine’

1.5m people vaccinated

Sharing data on the Covid-19 vaccination drive, she said so far 1.5 million people –– 6.5 per cent of the total population –– had been vaccinated against the disease.

“The province has a population of 17.26 million people aged above 30. Once vaccination of individuals under 30 will start, the vaccination ratio in the province will increase. This will also help improve herd immunity for which we need to vaccinate 70pc of the population.”

Further explaining how the government planned to meet its vaccination target, the minister said the government was in contact with all stakeholders, including different communities, traders, businessmen and industrialists.

“We are setting up vaccination centres in shopping malls and wedding halls. A person with any document proving his or her identity can go there to get the vaccine jab. We will bind industrialists and representatives of other sectors to get their staff inoculated. The government employees refusing vaccination will face a salary stoppage.”

No decision on schools

About the educational institutions, the health minister said no decision had been taken to open schools in the province but examinations would be held in July.

Asked about the Pfizer vaccine, she said the vaccine would be administered to those young people who planned to go abroad for study and pregnant women in the first stage. “Once we start the process of vaccinating people under 30 years of age, we will contact madressahs to vaccinate their students,” she said in response to another question.

The minister credited the government for taking timely lockdowns and imposing Covid-19 restrictions that helped control virus transmission. She encouraged people to get vaccinated as soon as possible so that the Covid-related restrictions could be withdrawn and life could return to normality.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2021

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