Punjab eyes 3-fold vaccination in June

Health minister to announce strategy for expanding facilities

ADNAN LODHI May 19, 2021

Punjab government has set targets of administering coronavirus vaccine to 324,00 people daily during June and 424,000 in July after increasing the number of vaccination centres across the province.

According to health department sources, new vaccination centres will be opened in all 36 districts of the province to increase the capacity to serve 324,000 people daily from June 1. The number of vaccination centres operating currently in the province is 351.

The provincial health minister is likely to announce a strategy soon for setting up more centres for vaccinating 424,000 people daily against Covid-19 from July 1, the sources added.

Around 2.2 million people have so far been vaccinated in the province, including front line health workers and senior citizens, while registration for administering the vaccines to the people below 30 years of age would start next.

As Covid-19 is at its peak in the province and the rate of new infections remains high, Punjab government is actively focusing on the vaccination and making efforts to increase the facilities for the purpose.

Currently, there are 351 coronavirus vaccination centres in the 36 districts of Punjab, including seven in Lahore, and the number of people visiting them is on the rise.

After two Eid holidays, the vaccination service resumed in the province on May 15. The staff deputed at the vaccination centres performed duty in two shifts daily during Ramazan amid continuous monitoring by the Punjab health minister and senior officers.

Currently, about 1,000 people are being vaccinated daily at the centres.

Vaccination of people aged above 40 years is under way, including administration of second doses to those over 50 years of age.

The provincial government has almost completed vaccination of the front line health workers that was started in the first phase. Now it is planning to start vaccination of citizens below 30 years of age next month.

"It is our success that we are achieving our targets set by the NCOC (National Command and Operation Centre) and doing 100,000 vaccinations daily. From next month, we will be in a position to increase the pace of inoculation of citizens," a senior health official said while speaking to The Express Tribune.

"We developed our capacity and through the hard work of the health ministry, vaccination of about 2.4 million people has been competed. Our target is to vaccinate 40 million people in the province," the official added.

Punjab Health Department spokesman Sayed Hamad Raza said, "Our primary focus at the moment is on vaccination, while at the same time improving the infrastructure in the hospitals to fight coronavirus."

The spokesman expressed confidence that the health authorities would meet the target of vaccinating 424,000 people daily in Punjab. He said planning in this regard was currently under way.

Meanwhile, apprehensions among some people caused by rumours about the vaccination appear to be subsiding and they are getting vaccinated with enthusiasm.

"I got vaccinated last month and I am feeling well with no reaction or fever about which I had heard rumours," said Tariq Mahmood, a 64-year-old resident of the provincial capital.

Institute of Public Health Dean Dr Zarafshan Tahir said vaccination was the best way to stay safe from the pandemic and it would help overcome the threat to people's lives.

"However the number of patients in hospitals is also high mostly because of the people's general attitude of ignoring SOPs announced for their safety. During the recent lockdown, we noted that the number of patients decreased because of implementation of the safety guidelines."

She added, "We have to face coronavirus till the completion of vaccination in the country and for the people should behave responsibly and register themselves for the vaccination."

Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2021.