More females than males received Covid-19 vaccines on the first day of the vaccination programme in the capital's shantytowns that started on Sunday with the residents of the Karail slum, said Dhaka North authorities.
Vaccination activities at the Karail slum started at 9 am. On the first day, 6,321 people, 3,320 females and 3,001 males, most of whom are housemaids, garment factory workers and rickshaw pullers, took the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at 25 booths of the slum, said Dhaka North Deputy Chief Health Officer Lt Col Md Golam Mostafa Sarwar.
The local councillor provided a token to slum dwellers on Monday. People were seen in queues at the booths for making on-spot registration with that token, NID card or birth certificate. Besides, those who did not receive any message after registration also received the vaccine.
Fahima Akhter, 22, who works as a housemaid in Banani, took two hours off from work to get the vaccine. She said she took the vaccine at the Mossharaf Bazar booth and it took only 15-20 minutes.
"We need to be vaccinated as it is difficult for us to get a job as a housemaid as many people do not want to recruit us if we are not vaccinated out of fear of being infected," she added.
However, Momela Khatun, 30, a garment factory worker, said she had to wait for three hours to be vaccinated at the Ershad School field booth. She took a leave of absence for vaccination.
"I am happy to get the vaccine. I did not have to go far as the centre is next to my place. I face difficulties in getting a job without being vaccinated," she added.
Rickshaw puller Salauddin, a resident of Karail slum, is allergic to heat so he was confused about whether to take the vaccine, but he took the vaccine from the Mosharraf Bazar Centre on Tuesday on the advice of a doctor.
"I was afraid to take the vaccine without consulting a doctor. As the vaccine centre is near my place and I had the opportunity to talk to a doctor and I took the vaccine," he added.
Members of the Red Crescent are assisting with vaccination activities in the Karail slum. Four Red Crescent volunteers and two vaccinators are working in each booth.
Red Crescent Team Leader Toshi Kabir, who is in charge of the Mosaraf Bazar Vaccine Centre in the slum, told TBS that pregnant, lactating mothers and those with uncontrolled blood pressure are not being vaccinated in the slum.
After visiting the Ershad School field, Dhaka North Chief Executive Officer Selim Reza told reporters that all slum dwellers above the age of 18 would be vaccinated. As many as 15,000 vaccines arrived on Tuesday and 20,000 more vaccines will be in stock from tomorrow. The week-long vaccination programme will continue as there are plans to vaccinate millions of slum dwellers.
Red Crescent Team Leader (Ershad School field) Anawar Hossain told TBS, "There are six booths, the highest, in Ershad School field. There are plans to administer 600 vaccines a day at each booth. Women were more interested in taking vaccines. People aged 25-40 are coming for vaccinations more."
Dr Shamsul Haque, member secretary of the Covid-19 Vaccine Management Taskforce under the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), said, "Majority of the slum dwellers work outside on working days, so we will keep arrangements on Fridays so that they can receive their shots at their convenient time."
Health Minister Zahid Maleque said dwellers in other slums would also get their shots soon in phases.