Bangladesh will give booster doses to people at risk

“Those who have a comorbidity, or major health risks will get the booster vaccine,” said Dr ABM Khurshid Alam, the director general of health services, at a discussion with members of the Bangladesh Health Reporters Forum on Monday.

“Age will not be a barrier in those cases.”

Bangladesh began distributing COVID booster doses on Dec 28. Currently, those over the age of 60 and those working on the frontlines of disease prevention are the only ones getting the third dose. Anyone receiving the booster must also have received the second dose of the vaccine over six months ago.

Those who have a high risk of death from the disease should get the booster, Dr Khurshid Alam said.

“They will have to bring their vaccine card to the vaccination centre and say that they have a physical ailment. Why should we exclude a cancer patient who is under the age of 40? We will make arrangements for them to get vaccines.”

Information regarding comorbidity was collected during registration and can be checked before boosters are given, the director general of health services said.

“And if someone didn’t mention comorbidity during registration, they will have to show proof. There are many comorbidities, but I am largely concerned with the most dangerous ones, like cancer. Those who have cancer are taking anti-cancer drugs, are getting radiation treatment and chemotherapy, and their immune systems are weak. These are the kinds of people we want to give the vaccine to.”

Bangladesh launched its COVID vaccination programme on Feb 8 of last year. As of Sunday, more than 74.48 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine. Of them, 52.84 million have also received the second dose.

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So far, 114,740 have received the booster dose.

The booster dose, or third dose of the COVID vaccine, is necessary because vaccine immunity to the disease diminishes over time.

Currently, Bangladesh is administering the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines for the first and second doses. But only the Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca doses are being used for booster doses at the advice of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, or NITAG.

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