Health

Bangladesh rolls out COVID vaccine booster doses

Bangladesh began distributing the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Feb 8. Now, 10 months later, it has started administering a third dose.

Though boosters were available in some Dhaka locations on Tuesday, it will take a few more days to start administering the doses outside the capital, the Directorate General of Health Services said.

The Pfizer vaccine is being used for the third dose, in accordance with WHO guidelines.

Quite a few people had come to get their vaccines at the Kurmitola General Hospital in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Tabinda Liakat, a resident of Banani, said she had come to get the shot with her husband Liakat Ali. The two of them got their second dose back in April.

“Yesterday we got an SMS telling us to come get a booster dose, so I came with my husband. We got the shot. So far I don’t feel too bad.”

According to the vaccination centre’s information, 102 booster doses were administered by 12:15 pm. The centre plans to distribute 200 booster doses by the end of Tuesday.

Boosters were also administered at the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation, better known as Pongu Hospital. As of 11:30 am, 16 people had received their booster shots.

Mollik Nurul Islam Shasthri, a resident of Shahjadpur, got his booster vaccine. He also got his second dose of the vaccine in April.

“I am always eager to get vaccines,” he said. “Allah decides when we live or die, but, in His wisdom, He has given us a few ways to stay healthy. I believe you can stay healthy if you get the vaccine. I got the vaccine and I haven’t been infected by the coronavirus yet.”

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Preparations have been taken to administer booster doses at Shaheed Suhrawardy Hospital, but no one had turned up by noon, said Deputy Director Md Saiduzzaman. A few nurses did, however, get their doses.

“We are ready to administer booster doses. SMS messages have been sent out to frontline workers and those over 60 according to their serial number. They have been asked to come on their assigned day. We are administering vaccines to expatriates at this centre and will continue that programme alongside the booster doses.”

Minister of Health and Family Welfare Zahid Maleque launched the booster dose programme on a test basis on Dec 19.

The boosters will be given to any citizen over the age of 60 or people who are at risk due to being on the frontlines of the pandemic. The dose will be made available to an eligible person if six months or more have passed since the second dose of the vaccine.

Those who have already registered and received their first and second doses will not need to register again. Anyone eligible for the booster dose will receive an SMS informing them of the date it will be available.

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