Govt to keep people posted on vaccination info via SMS
The government is also due to prepare a list of people prioritised for immunisation
The government will inform people in advance through text messages about who will get the Covid-19 vaccine, plus when and where to get it.
The message will have information about vaccination centres.
In addition, everyone will be provided with a vaccine card, which will show the batch number of the vaccine and its expiration date.
The government will also prepare a list of people to be prioritised for immunisation, taking into account area-wise records of Covid-19 infection rate.
The decisions came at a meeting on 30 November chaired by the prime minister's Principal Secretary Ahmad Kaikaus to finalise plans for the use of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The meeting decided to preserve and manage vaccines, make a list of those prioritised for vaccination, monitor possible side effects of the jabs and formulate an action plan for medical waste disposal.
The government will also organise monitoring and daily briefings to prevent rumours about vaccinations.
According to the meeting minutes, the vaccine will be provided to 1,20,000 centres of the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) across the country under adequate security.
"With the existing manpower of the EPI, it is possible to vaccinate five million people per month," said Md Shamsul Haque of the health department.
He claimed that immunisation workers are familiar with post-vaccination risk management, cold chain monitoring, vaccine card preparation, and record keeping.
The meeting also decided to initiate training for immunisation staff very soon.
The government will buy 30 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at $5 per dose from the Serum Institute of India and 68 million doses at $2 per dose from international vaccine coalition COVAX.
Some 20% of people are likely to be vaccinated by next June, the meeting said, adding that it will be ensured that a person gets two vaccine shots from the same company.
Health Minister Zahid Malik said, Thursday, 30 million doses of the Oxford vaccine are likely to arrive in Bangladesh either in the last week of January or in the first week of February.
The Serum Institute of India will provide five million doses of the jabs per month, he said, adding that the government hopes to get the COVAX vaccine by June.
Priority will be given to: health workers, frontline fighters, immunocompromised people, the elderly, the adult population with long-term illnesses, educators, and public transport workers.
The government is preparing a database for those that will get the vaccines first. There will be a list of priorities based on the district or region-wise rate of infection.
The A2I, the ICT Division and the Health Services Department are collaborating with each other to develop a mobile app. With the help of this app, anyone on the priority list can apply for the vaccine.
No government agency has a list of people at high risk of death from disease or a list of those with comorbidities.
Professor Meerjadi Sabrina Flora, additional director general at the Directorate General of Health Services, was present at the meeting. She said listing all such people will be a daunting task for the government, particularly identifying those who have comorbidities.
The Department of Health will develop a protocol to keep a record of vaccine side effects and to issue necessary advice to resolve them.
Beximco Pharmaceuticals Managing Director Nazmul Hossain told the meeting that the novel coronavirus vaccine will arrive at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport via Delhi from the Serum Institute in Pune, India. From there, they will be transferred to and kept at a Beximco warehouse.
He said vaccine cartons will contain temperature monitoring devices during their transport from India so that records of a 20-day cold chain will be preserved.
During this time, Beximco will deliver the vaccines from their warehouses to districts. However, it will not take responsibility if the cold chain is disrupted after the vaccines' handover to the government.
Nazmul said the Oxford vaccine is five millilitres each. Each dose will contain 0.5 millilitres, meaning that there will be 10 doses in a vial. The second dose should be administered 28 days after the first one.
The government will receive the vaccines from Beximco, checking the temperature recorded on the temperature monitoring device. Whether the cooling boxes are working properly during the transfer of vaccines from district to upazila levels will also be strictly monitored.
Four committees have been formed at the national, city corporations, district, and upazila levels for the smooth management of vaccination activities and preparation and finalisation of the list of those who will be vaccinated on a priority basis.
The national committee has been formed under the chair of the prime minister's principal secretary while such committees have also been made in the city corporation areas headed by respective city corporation mayors.
Members of Parliament will be the heads of such committees at district sadar levels while upazila chairmen and chairwomen will lead the committees at district-upazila levels.
According to health ministry officials, the government has planned to vaccinate a total of 13,82,47,508 people against the novel coronavirus.
Of these, 20% of the country's population will be given the vaccine shot with jabs from Serum and COVAX in the first phase, while in the next phase, this rate will be increased to 40% and in the last phase to 60%.
About 280 million doses of the vaccine will be required for this purpose.
The Ministry of Health is in talks with the Serum Institute as well as a number of Chinese companies – including Russia's Sputnik-V and Sinovac – to collect another 190 million doses of vaccines.