Covid-19 booster: Special campaign to start this month

The health directorate is going to conduct a special campaign this month to inoculate around five crore people, aged 18 and above, who have received their second dose of Covid-19 vaccines at least four months ago.

Officials said they have enough vaccines in stock for the campaign.

It will be similar to the previous special campaign, which was held at the union level in rural areas and ward level in municipalities in February and March, they said.

“The date [for the special booster doze campaign] is yet to be fixed. We have been waiting for the health minister’s return from abroad to finalise it,” Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, director general of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told The Daily Star yesterday.

The minister is expected to return home tonight from an official visit to the World Bank headquarters in New York, according to a ministry official.

As of Thursday, around 11.68 crore adults — 68.51 percent of the total population — have received the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. However, not all will be eligible for the booster, health officials said.

As per the DGHS’s Covid-19 vaccine administration protocol, any second dose vaccine recipient can get a booster jab with an interval of at least four months — as recommended by the World Health Organization.

In that case, the number of eligible booster recipients will be around 4.6 crore, according to the DGHS data.

Around 1.35 crore people who already have received their booster shots as of Thursday have also been excluded from this list.

“We have enough vaccines in our stock to inoculate all the eligible recipients with the booster dose,” Dr Mowla Baksh Chaudhury, deputy director and programme manager of the expanded programme on immunization (EPI), told this newspaper yesterday.

He said they have been  planning on a micro level to count the number of eligible people for booster shots in each upazila.

“With lower Covid-19 transmission rates, we have been observing a lower rush for vaccine recipients. So, we are planning, in detail, to bring more people under the booster dose coverage,” Mowla said.

On Tuesday, the DGHS held a coordination meeting in Dhaka with health officials around the country regarding booster dose administration.

On February 8 last year, the government introduced a nationwide Covid-19 vaccination campaign initially for 80 percent of the population aged 18 and above. The target was later lowered to 70 percent later.

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