Last week, Pakistan crossed the vaccine rollout mark of 10 million people, which undoubtedly is an outstanding achievement keeping in view the slow vaccination rate recorded in the beginning. The NCOC has recently released a rather ambitious way forward that is both appreciable and requires introspection. Pakistan aims to vaccinate 70 million people — 33% of the population — by the end of the year 2021. In order to achieve this herculean task, the government plans on scaling up the vaccination drive as well as vaccine production. Here is how: along with the local production of the vaccine, the government intends to boost the current jab capacity from 400,000 doses per day to 1 million. Furthermore, the current number of vaccination centres all over the country is 1,800, which is to be ramped up to 4,000 in the near future. Mobile vaccination services are also being offered to senior citizens and recently a drive-through vaccination clinic has also been opened.
While the numbers seem quite encouraging and demonstrates the government’s unwavering commitment to fight off the deadly pandemic, there is a stark reality of hesitancy against the vaccine that can hamper the whole vaccination drive. Every other day a myth or rumour against the safety and efficacy of the vaccine surfaces, and the amount of attention it gets from the public can have serious repercussions. The irony is that a large number of people, which include many from the educated lot too, believe in this misinformation and are wary of getting vaccinated.
Pakistan has so far fared quite well through the pandemic in comparison with many countries around the world. A recent government survey has revealed that 55-60% of the eligible population is willing to get the vaccine jabs. However, this number can go both ways. Therefore, we need to proceed proactively.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2021.