Sindh sits on one million Pfizer vaccine jabs

Health dept springs into action as half of the doses near expiration


Sameer Mandhro September 20, 2021

KARACHI:

Around 50 per cent of the one million Pfizer doses in the Sindh government's coronavirus vaccine inventory are due to expire after two weeks, The Express Tribune learnt on Sunday.

Informed sources in the health department confirmed that Pfizer doses, which were used sparingly thus far, will be administered to all citizens reaching vaccination centres in the coming 15 days so they may be utilised efficiently.

Sources revealed that more than 380,000 doses were distributed across the province but most districts did not utilise the Pfizer jabs. Not a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine, donated by the United States under the Covax facility, was utilised in Kashmore though it received a stock of 8,000 shots.

On the other hand, not a single jab of the Pfizer vaccine was available at the province's biggest vaccination facility - Expo Centre Karachi - The Express Tribune learnt.

Now, however, given the low rate of utilisation, all district health officers have been instructed by the Sindh health secretary to administer Pfizer jabs to citizens who reach the centres in the coming days.

"The Pfizer will be given as the first dose to the people coming to the centre now," confirmed a senior official, privy to the development.

The directives come in the nick of time for nearly 50 per cent of the Pfizer doses available at district headquarters across the province are set to expire after 15 days.

Read More: Pakistan receives first batch of Pfizer vaccine under COVAX

Sources in the Sindh health department told The Express Tribune that the doses were distributed among the various districts of the province on September 3 and 4. All district health officers had been directed then as well to utilise the jabs but they failed to do so despite repeated reminders, maintained the sources.

Hyderabad, for example, was given more than 46,000 doses of the donated vaccines.

"There was an issue in maintaining cold chain [storage]," said Sindh health department spokesperson Atif Vighio, attempting to justify the delay. But, he added, more citizens will be inoculated with Pfizer doses in coming days and the jabs will be utilised in time.

Confirming the huge stock of the Pfizer vaccine, Sindh Parliamentary Secretary on Health Qasim Siraj Soomro told The Express Tribune, that "anybody can come and get it".

He said that all officials have been directed to use this vaccine, which was earlier reserved for travellers given the limitations imposed on Chinese coronavirus vaccines by some countries.

Health officials confirmed that the US was to provide 1.6 million doses under the Covax initiative, which aims to facilitate global and equitable access of Covid jabs. Around one million of these doses have been delivered to the provincial government thus far.

 

 

Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2021.

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