Govt expands vaccination campaign to youngsters
Dr Sultan says plan to initiate booster shot under consideration
The federal government on Tuesday announced a further expansion in the ongoing nationwide vaccination campaign to the youngsters as the authorities regained their momentum of inoculating over a million Covid-19 shots per day after a slight dip in recent weeks.
The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) – the nerve centre of the country’s fight against Covid-19 pandemic – said in a tweet on Tuesday that the total vaccines administered to the eligible masses during the past 24 hours were 1,051,651.
Vaccine Statistics:— NCOC (@OfficialNcoc) August 24, 2021
Vaccine administered across Pakistan on 23 Aug: 1,051,651
Total vaccine administered till now: 47,802,106
The tweet came as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr Faisal Sultan announced the expansion of the vaccination campaign to citizens of 17 years of age from September 1. Hitherto, the government has been vaccinating people of 18 years and above.
“The government will soon start vaccination for the age group of 15-16 years,” Dr Sultan said, adding that the date in this regard would be announced soon. He said that the immunocompromised citizens of the age of 12 years and above would get special recommended Covid-19 vaccine at the mega vaccination centres.
Dr Sultan, the de facto health minister of the country, told a press conference in Islamabad that those Pakistanis who wanted to travel abroad and needed a specific vaccine as per respective country’s requirement, now would be able to get such vaccine.
“This vaccine will be allowed on the basis of their traveling requirement. For this purpose they have to show their visa of the respective country,” he said. “This vaccine will be allowed on nominal charges. This category will be allowed for vaccination from September 1.”
Dr Faisal said that the government has started considering initiation of booster shot after six month of the second shot for the frontline healthcare workers of 50 years of age and immunocompromised persons.
“After consultation, this booster is likely to start from October 1,” he said.
Dr Sultan said that the government had taken serious notice of reports of fake vaccination certificates and a crackdown had been initiated against those involved in this crime. “Strict action has been launched through the FIA [Federal Investigation Agency] and the police,” he added.
Separately, the NCOC head Asad Umar also confirmed in a tweet that the forum had decided “today to lower the eligible age for Covid vaccination” to 15 years. “Starting September 1, vaccination of 17 years old will start. For 15 and 16 years old start date will be announced later.”
Have decided in NCOC meeting today to lower the eligible age for covid vaccination to 15 years and older. Starting September 1, vaccination of 17 years old will start. For 15 and 16 years old start date will be announced later.— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) August 24, 2021
Meanwhile, the NCOC said in a statement that vaccination was obligatory for those employed in various sectors, saying the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine should be taken by August 31 and the second jab by Sep 30.
The decisions taken in the NCOC meeting stipulated that only fully vaccinated people will be allowed to travel by air from Sep 30, while the same restriction would apply to the passengers of other public transport facilities from October 15.
Similarly, the forum decided that people travelling on motorways should be vaccinated with first dose by September 15, while travellers on the highways must get the first Covid-19 dose by September 30 and second dose by October 30 to prevent the travel bar.
The NCOC statement said that the students, aged 17 and above, should get first dose by September 15 and the second dose by October 15. In case of non-compliance, they will not be allowed to enter their educational institutions. School van drivers should get first dose by August 31, it added.
Meanwhile, a White House official said in Washington that the United States would ship over 3 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Pakistan via the Covax global distribution programme, bringing the total number of doses sent to Pakistan to around 8.5 million.
Scientific teams and legal and regulatory authorities from both the countries worked together to ensure the prompt delivery of the 3,006,900 vaccine lots made by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, the official said.
The government has stepped up the vaccination campaign in the wake of a fourth wave of the global pandemic, fuelled by the ‘Delta’ variant of coronavirus. Because of the fourth wave, the number of active cases had exceeded 90,000 for the first time since the peak of third-wave earlier this year.
The NCOC said in its daily update that the national tally of active Covid-19 cases rose to 91,046 on Tuesday with 4,075 more people testing positive and 2,857 people recovering from the disease during the last 24 four hours.
It said that among the active cases, 6,060 patients were admitted to various Covid-dedicated hospitals. It added that 5,513 patients were under treatment in critical condition, including 123 patients admitted during the past 24 hours. The forum said 507 patients were on ventilators.
The daily update said that 91 patients, of them 77 in hospitals, including 34 on ventilators, lost their battle for life in the last 24 hours – the highest single-day death toll during the fourth wave of Covid 19. The overall death toll from the deadly contagion rose to 25,094.
The national Covid positivity ratio during the past 24 hours was 6.79%, the forum said. As of Tuesday, it added, the national caseload of the disease since its outbreak in February last year rose to 1,131,659, including 1,015,519 people making full recovery.
(WITH INPUT FROM AGENCIES)