ISLAMABAD: While a large number of people intending to get the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine are sent back from vaccination centres because they fail to show the SMS that their second dose has become due, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Saturday decided that no one would be sent back unvaccinated.
In another development, Pakistan received 1.23 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine which was the fourth consignment sent by the international alliance Covax.
As over 500,000 people are being vaccinated on a daily basis, it was decided that vaccination centres would remain closed on only first day of Eidul Azha.
The spokesperson for the Ministry of National Health Services, Sajid Shah, told Dawn that NCOC was receiving complaints that a large number of people went to vaccination centres as soon as their second doses became due, but they were sent back by the staff saying that they should visit after they got the message from the helpline i.e. 1166.
“The NCOC has decided that no such person will be sent back. We have ample quantity of vaccine and it will be administered to anyone once second dose becomes due. People are told at the time of first jab that after three or four weeks their second dose will become due. So they should not be sent back unvaccinated,” he said.
He said that the NCOC decided that there should be only one off day for the staff deputed at vaccination centers during Eid holiday. “So vaccination centers will remain closed for only one day i.e. first day of Eid. We are vaccinating over 500,000 people daily and it was decided to close vaccination centres on first day of Eid so that the staff would also get a chance to celebrate Eid with families. Moreover, people do not prefer to go to vaccination centres on first day of Eid,” he said.
Mr Shah said that the country on Saturday received 1,236,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine through Covax.
Covax, co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Gavi-the Vaccines Alliance and the World Health Organisation, is a global initiative that works with governments and manufacturers to ensure Covid-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries. It has pledged to provide free vaccine for 20 per cent population of Pakistan and has earlier sent three consignments of AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Sameh Elfangary, country president for Gulf Cooperation Council and Pakistan, AstraZeneca, said: “I was delighted to see the arrival of further doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to Pakistan. This is wonderful news for the people of Pakistan. On behalf of AstraZeneca, I would like to thank our partners at Covax for making this possible. All partners are working round the clock to ensure that as many vaccines reach as many people as soon as possible. This milestone further demonstrates the value of governments, industry and others working together to fight against the pandemic.”
He said to date, 700 million AstraZeneca doses had been released for supply to 170 countries and the vaccine accounted for approximately 90pc of Covax supply to date with more than 80m doses released for supply to 127 countries, he said.
Meanwhile, the NCOC data shared on Saturday showed that 2,783 new Covid-19 cases and 39 deaths caused by the infection were reported in the country in a single day. The number of active cases was 45,579 as of July 17 out of which 2,798 patients were admitted to hospitals.
Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2021