KATHMANDU, Jan 17: According to the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), the government's target of vaccinating 66 percent of the population against COVID 19 by mid-January could not be met.
According to the figures released by the MoHP on Sunday, 61 percent of the population over the age of 18 has been fully vaccinated and 81 percent have received the first dose. Similarly, 59 percent of the total population has taken the first dose and 40 percent full dose. According to the ministry, Bagmati and Gandaki provinces have been successful in achieving the vaccination target.
To meet the government's mid-December target, 26 percent of the population are yet to be vaccinated. Similarly, if the population above 18 years of age is taken as the basis, 5 percent of them are yet to be fully vaccinated. The government, against the criteria of vaccinating 66 percent of the population before rolling out the booster doses, set by the World Health Organization, has announced a program to give booster doses starting Sunday.
Despite having enough vaccines to conduct the vaccination campaign, the target group could not get the vaccine in time due to the lack of effective government plan and program, said chief of the Vaccination Branch of the ministry, Dr Jhalak Gautam.
“The government mobilized the vaccination centers and manpower as was the case with fewer vaccines in storage. The vaccination centers and manpower should have been mobilized according to the quantity of vaccines, but that did not happen," he said, adding that the vaccination program has not been effective due to the lack of vaccination centers and lack of monitoring of vaccination centers.
According to the Logistics Management Section under the Department of Health Services, more than 10 million doses of vaccines were in storage till last Friday. In the meantime, 1.1 million doses of Vero Cell vaccines arrived. Before that, 11.3 million doses of vaccines were in storage. About 12.2 million doses of vaccines were in storage two weeks ago, including additional vaccines.
Similarly, it is seen that 2.4 million doses of vaccine have been used in about two weeks. More than 9.6 million doses of vaccines are in storage in the provincial and federal stores.
Chief of the Bhaktapur District Public Health Office, Krishna Mijar, said that the vaccination program was not fully successful as not all people believed that the vaccines work against COVID 19.
“Crowds at the vaccination centers appear to have increased only after the government made it mandatory for public service users to get a vaccine card from the third week of January. There was no such crowd before," he said. According to him, some people have not been able to get vaccinated due to unsatisfactory working hours and need to be given time throughout the day to get vaccinated. For this, experts suggest that the vaccination centers should be operated so that they are not over-crowded.
As the vaccination program could not be completed as per the target, the MoHP on Sunday suggested that the vaccination centers should be expanded. "In the coming days, it has become important to increase the number of vaccination centers," said Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari, joint spokesperson for the ministry.
He claimed that the booster dose vaccination program was carried out in accordance with the guidelines of the World Health Organization due to the growing risk of infection of the Omicron variant. "Even though it seems as if the target has been missed, most of the population is out of the country because of which only 40 percent coverage is seen," said Dr Adhikari.