KARACHI: As a major move in the ongoing nationwide inoculation drive, the Sindh government has also allowed Covid-19 vaccination of adults not having computerised national identity cards (CNICs).
Sources and officials said that the facility to allow vaccination to adults without CNICs was opened more than two weeks ago and over 2,000 people had already availed it. However, the offer has not been publicised much through conventional and social media.
“This initiative was formally launched more than two weeks ago,” Qasim Soomro, a Sindh Assembly member of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from Tharparkar, who is also a parliamentary secretary and one of the members of the Provincial Vaccine Administration Cell headed by the health secretary, told Dawn.
“Initially, a separate counter was set up at the Expo Centre which at that time was serving as the only round-the-clock vaccination centre. Then the facility was extended to other major urban centres and now across Sindh any adult who doesn’t have a CNIC for any reason could get the jabs.”
‘The rush at vaccination centres is due to the deadline given for blocking SIMs and withholding salaries’
He said the provincial health department took a decision under recommendation of the provincial Task Force on Coronavirus, headed by Syed Murad Ali Shah, Sindh chief minister.
“Since these people don’t have any CNICs, the vaccination staff would ask them for any document or piece of information which can help track their record and build their separate database for documentation and provincial certification. That can be anything whether it’s a cellphone number, their residential address, an affidavit, contract details of their employers — anything. The prime objective is to vaccinate everyone,” said Mr Soomro.
Meanwhile, provincial government spokesman and Adviser to the Sindh CM Barrister Murtaza Wahab said the number of people being vaccinated was rising “phenomenally” and things could improve in the days to come.
“Earlier, 50,000 vaccinations a day were recorded,” he said in reply to a query while talking to reporters after visiting a vaccination centre at the FB Industrial Area Association of Trade and Industry office. “But for the last few days now more than 200,000 vaccinations are being done daily. It is important to wear a mask and get vaccinated. The media has a role to play to make people aware. Those who deny the effectiveness of the vaccination should be convinced through facts and data. And the data and experts say that 87 per cent of coronavirus patients admitted to different hospitals had not been vaccinated. And those 13 per cent who got infected despite being vaccinated are stable and only have mild symptoms.”
To contain the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19, he said the country had no other option but to complete vaccination of its people. He referred to the opinion of the doctors and health experts who wanted complete lockdown and zero tolerance on the restrictions only to save lives and contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“But still the Sindh government eased things only to help people and poor segments of society,” said Barrister Wahab.
Overcrowding at vaccination centres
Meanwhile, in a statement, the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association expressed serious concerns over the growing rush and overcrowding at vaccination centres that could increase the spread of coronavirus.
“The government should further significantly increase the number of vaccination centres and open all the vaccination centres in the city for 24 hours instead of merely extending the working hours of specific vaccination centres,” said PIMA president Dr Abdullah Muttaqi. “Extending working hours is a practical solution to reduce congestion at vaccination centres. The rush at vaccination centres is due to the deadline given for blocking SIMs and withholding salaries. The government should either withdraw or extend the deadline. The pressure on the vaccination centres is getting out of control.”
Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2021