ISLAMABAD: While the government continues to make efforts to create awareness among citizens about the need to get vaccinated, around 300,000 recipients of the first dose never returned to receive their second jab of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, who also heads the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), said a call centre was being established to contact such people and convince them to complete their vaccination.
On the other hand, the country reported the lowest number of positive cases on Monday since March 8.
According to data, around 300,000 people have failed to return to receive the second dose after receiving their first dose since the start of the vaccination drive on Feb 2.
An official of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), requesting not to be named, said in Pakistan, the second dose of majority of the vaccines, except AstraZeneca, was administered after an interval of three weeks. The second dose of the UK vaccine, on the other hand, is given after 12 weeks.
“Around 300,000 first dose recipients never showed up on their due dates,” he said.
“We are categorising such people; there is a possibility that some of them might have died before getting their second dose. Another group which has been identified consists of those who contracted Covid-19 after receiving their first dose and then decided not to get the second one. Others might have fallen to the negative propaganda and skipped the vaccination,” he added.
A document, available with Dawn, shows that there was a huge difference between the number of people who were scheduled to get their second dose on their due dates and those who actually received it.
On May 24, 120,960 citizens were supposed to get the second jab, but only 77,136 contacted. Similarly, 183,601 people were due to get their second doses on May 25 but 87,169 received them while 187,978 people had their due date on May 26 but only 90,160 turned up.
On May 27, a total of 180,537 doses were to be administered but 113,390 were given whereas 140,246 out of 195,065 people received their second jab on May 29.
Meanwhile, the NHS ministry officials claimed that the situation had started to improve and there were days when more people were inoculated than those whose doses were due.
The document shows that on June 1, a total of 31,286 people were due to get their second doses, but 90,729 showed up. In the same way, 17,785 people were called for their second jab on June 6, but 31,194 were vaccinated.
Talking to Dawn, Member of the Scientific Task Force on Covid-19 Dr Javed Akram linked this trend to various factors.
“A number of people have had a minor reaction to the vaccine after which they decided not to get the second dose. Some fell for the propaganda against vaccination while others decided against getting the second jab after contracting the virus,” he said.
Replying to a question, Dr Akram said the first dose developed 55 per cent immunity, which was why the second jab was all the more important.
“If the vaccine, which has been administered as the first dose, is running short, people should get the second dose of any other vaccine. If a person does not get the second dose for six months he/she will be treated as a fresh case and has to receive two doses,” he added.
Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said messages were being sent to those who failed to reach vaccination centres on their due dates.
“We are also establishing a call centre to contact and convince people to get their second jab. Though I am not aware about the exact number, according to my estimates there are fewer than 300,000 people who did not return for the second dose,” he said.
Meanwhile, the NCOC data reported 1,490 cases and 58 deaths in a single day.
This was the lowest number of positive cases recorded since March 8 when 1,353 patients were found carrying the virus. Moreover, the number of active cases has reduced by 50pc during the last two months. There were over 90,000 active patients in April which have now come down to 47,376 as of June 7.
Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2021