LAHORE: The federal government is set to begin a drive to vaccinate 16 million school-going children of Punjab and Sindh in the age group of five to 11 years, against Covid-19 from Sept 19, as it is likely to receive 36 million pediatric doses of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine from the US next week.

This is the first time the government has decided to bring school-going children under Covid-19 vaccination coverage, an official privy to the information told Dawn.

Initially, the drive will cover only Sindh and Punjab. Earlier, the official said, several campaigns had been launched all over the country for Covid-19 vaccination of the adult population.

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has assigned the responsibility of the vaccination of school-going children to the Federal Directorate of Immunisation (FDI).

The FDI has conveyed to the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) to make arrangements for the six-day campaign.

The official said the EPI would engage teams of Unicef and WHO as they had strong management skills and expertise to run several similar immunisation drives.

In the past, he said, the federal government used to communicate directly to chief secretaries of the provinces to engage the district administration in such campaigns.

He said the US government had agreed to provide Pakistan pediatric Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine after having completed a similar drive for children in its own country.

He said the NCOC had been informed that 36m doses would reach the country next week and the vaccine would be administered to the children in two phases.

Quarantine centres at airports

Meanwhile, in a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19, health authorities have decided to establish quarantine centres at the Islamabad and Lahore airports.

The move came after the authorities noticed an upsurge in the number of passengers who were infected with the coronavirus.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will donate 5500 square feet of land at both airports free of cost for the purpose of quarantine centers, which will house Covid-positive passengers.

CAA will provide the land for five years without any rent whatsoever; however, the cost of construction will be covered by the health authorities.

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2022

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