ED: Ramping up our vaccination efforts

It is still encouraging to see that Bangladesh appears to have left behind its vaccine shortage woes

Firstly, the authorities concerned must be applauded for prioritizing vaccine procurement, and diversifying their sources.With vaccines now coming from multiple sources, this should have been the approach taken from the very beginning, but it is still encouraging to see that Bangladesh appears to have left behind its vaccine shortage woes.

However, procuring vaccines is one thing, successfully and efficiently administering the vaccine doses to the population is an entirely different one. While vaccination in Bangladesh has largely been seen as a success, health experts have rightfully noted that the number of jabs has not been sufficient when compared to the country’s needs.

The fact remains, only 5.17% of Bangladeshis have received at least one jab of the Covid-19 vaccine so far. Of these people, a mere 2.63% were fortunate enough to receive both their jabs. As virologist Prof Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) on Covid-19 noted, there remain plenty of barriers for people to be vaccinated, such as vaccination centres being too far away from their homes, not enough jabs being administered daily, and most of all, a lack of effective awareness campaigns that have left many in the country sceptical and hesitant regarding getting immunized.

This must be seen as a failure on the part of the authorities concerned, but there is still time to fix it. This starts with more vaccination facilities spread out throughout the country to make them more accessible to the people, as well as prioritizing awareness campaigns to encourage people to receive the jab.

The government made a bold statement earlier this week that it plans to vaccinate 10 million people each week. Given that about 13 million jabs have been administered so far, if it is to be successful, then there is much work to be done.