PESHAWAR: Two persons died of coronavirus and 38 new cases were recorded in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday amid complaints by the health department regarding the slow pace of vaccination in private schools.

“We have been able to immunise only 90,000 (15 per cent) of the total 600,000 students of private educational institutions in Peshawar so far. The situation throughout the province regarding private schools is not different where the health workers face the daunting task to inoculate the students,” senior health officials told this scribe.

They said that most of the students defied vaccination because their parents were reluctant to give consent for the same.

Officials said that the Private Schools Regulatory Authority (PSRA) was cooperative but parents were hampering vaccination of their children.

Chief Secretary Dr Shehzad Bangash has also taken exception to the lacklustre response of private schools towards Covid-19 and has directed strict action against those showing reluctance.

“Covid-19 vaccination has been declared obligatory regime by National Command and Operation Centre. Everyone has to receive jabs, therefore, we have been urging the schools to convince the parents or face action in the shape of closure of their institutions,” said officials.

Read more: KP health department facing problems to achieve Covid vaccination target

They said that the vacations of schools were also about to start. They said that health teams were directed to immunise the students in door-to-door campaigns. They added that similar strategy was adopted in the mountainous areas where educational institutions would stay closed for more than two months owing to winter vacations.

Officials said that the health department had so far administered the first dose of coronavirus vaccine to 13.5 million (52pc) of the 24.47m targeted population above 12 years of age while the number of fully vaccinated residents of the province was 12.5m (40pc).

“They main issue is that health conscious people have already been vaccinated and the rest of the people are hesitant to get dose, therefore, the government needs to take strictest action,” they said. They added that other provinces were ahead of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in vaccinating their residents.

The managing director of PSRA, Ahmed Zeb, told Dawn said that they had appointed focal person to ensure the vaccination of students.

“We get information from health department and address the refusals by talking to parents. We have shared data with health department and have requested it to inform us before the visits of teams to schools so that appropriate steps can be taken,” he said.

He said that they also took action through the district administration. “We are holding continuous meetings with private schools and urging them to cooperate in the administration of vaccine,” he added.

The PSRA director said that there was a very clear message to the schools that if they did not vaccinate their students and other staff against Covid-19, the virus would emerge with full veracity again and the schools would get closed.

“The only option is vaccination to let the schools operate smoothly. It is a national cause to safeguard the students and staff of schools,” he said.

Meanwhile, the province’s mortalities due to the virus reached 5,924 and infections 181,285, according to a report of health department.

Of the positive patients, 174,818 persons including 48 recorded during the last 24 hours have already recovered from the infectious ailment. The number of active patients is 38 in the province. There are 170 patients admitted to different hospitals and 15 of them are on ventilators.

Peshawar, the epicentre of the virus, recorded two deaths and 31 cases, said the report.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2021

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