ISLAMABAD: In a major development, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Tuesday decided to reduce minimum age for Covid-19 vaccination from 18 years to 15 years.
A number of other decisions were also made by the NCOC due to which in the next few months it will become next to impossible to stay unvaccinated and remain an active citizen of Pakistan. Both inbound and outbound passengers will have to be fully vaccinated from October 1.
Meanwhile, the government is going to start paid vaccination for those who want to get the vaccine of their choice.
These decisions were shared by federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan during a press conference.
Govt starts paid vaccination for those going abroad; US sends 3m doses
Dr Sultan said: “From September 1 teenagers over 17 years of age will be allowed to get first dose and will have to get one dose by September 15. They will have to be fully vaccinated by October 15, otherwise they will not be allowed in educational institutions. After that, 16 years to 17 years age group and then 15 years to 16 years age group will be allowed to get vaccinated. Dates for vaccination of other two groups [from 15 to 17] will be announced soon,” he said.
He said that those who were immunocompromised and over the age of 12 will be able to be vaccinated at selected vaccination centres after checking their medical record. He advised parents to ensure that their children were vaccinated.
“Some travellers need special or specific vaccines to travel to some countries so it has been decided that they will be charged for the vaccine because these vaccines are not given on the basis of medical condition but due to travel requirements. So these vaccines will be provided after checking their visas, but on payment. It is the only category in which payment will be charged and details will be shared soon,” he said.
Dr Sultan said it was being considered that a booster shot be given to healthcare workers of over 50 years and if such a decision was made, booster would be given after October 1 to those who had become fully vaccinated at least six months ago.
“Similarly a booster shot is being considered for those who are immunocompromised and were fully vaccinated at least six months ago,” he said.
He said those who had been vaccinated abroad could register themselves with the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) after August 26 when the link would be available at the website of Nadra. He said on complaints of fake vaccination certificates raids had been conducted and action was being taken against culprits.
Asad Umar said that 89 per cent teachers and other staff of educational institutions had been partially or fully vaccinated. He said after August 31 at least partially vaccinated drivers would be allowed to pick and drop students and from September 30 only fully vaccinated people would be allowed to stay in transportation business of students and school-related supplies.
He said the travel restrictions had already announced earlier this month and at least partially vaccinated people were allowed domestic air travel.
“After September 30 only fully vaccinated people would be allowed domestic and international air travel and restriction will be both for inbound and outbound travellers. Similarly, for shopping malls August 30 is the deadline for partially vaccinated and September 30 for fully vaccinated, as after that unvaccinated people will not be able to work or do shopping at shopping malls. Same is the case for hotels, guesthouses, etc,” he said.
About restaurants, wedding halls, etc, he said after September 30 non-vaccinated people would not be allowed to go there.
Sharing policy for trains and buses, Mr Umar said one dose had to be administered by September 15 and both doses by October 15 to become eligible for travel.
“Vaccine is available and thousands of vaccination centers are open so we cannot allow people to play with health of other people. As there are restrictions for some businesses we want to open all businesses at the earliest by vaccinating people. Similarly, for highways and motorways only partially vaccinated people would be allowed to travel after Sept 15 and fully vaccinated after October 15,” he said.
The minister said along with administrative arrangements, technology would also be used to ensure implementation of these decisions. He said the government gave priority to health of people and at the same time it wanted to ensure that businesses remained open.
According to data of the NCOC shared on Tuesday, 4,075 new cases of Covid-19 and 91 deaths caused by the disease were reported in a single day. The number of active cases was 91,046 as of August 24.
Vaccine sent by US
The United States will ship over 3 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Pakistan via the Covax global distribution programme on Tuesday, bringing the total number of doses sent to the country to around 8.5mn, according to a White House official, Reuters reports from Washington.
An additional 700,000 doses will follow, the official said. It was not immediately clear when they would be shipped to Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2021