Coronavirus vaccination in Bangladesh has gained momentum as more and more citizens turned up at inoculation centres to get their first shots with on-spot registration.
The health directorate said 1,58,451 people across the country got their first shots of Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine Wednesday while the turnout was 1,01,082 Tuesday, and 46,509 on Monday.
Doctors said though the on-spot registration for immediate immunisation helps raise the vaccine turnout, it puts the squeeze on vaccination capacity, and risks the inoculation management. Appreciating the high turnout, the hospitals urged people to sign up on their own prior to the immunisation instead of turning up at the centres with NID cards for on-spot registration and immediate vaccination.
Dhaka Medical College Hospital Wednesday administered Covid-19 vaccine to 960 citizens while the hospital called up 400 people. The hospital had to inoculate more 560 individuals after on-spot registration.
The hospital's director Brig Gen Nazmul Haque said though they texted 400 citizens for Wednesday vaccination, their arrangement was for immunisation of 500 people.
"But the turnout was around double. We had to double our booths to eight. Even after that, the stalls were crowded," he told The Business Standard.
Brig Gen Haque said if an individual comes to them with prior registration, the vaccination takes only ten minutes.
"We are not discouraging anyone. We do not have any shortage. People are coming, we want the inflow to continue. But, it is better to register beforehand to save time and to maintain order in vaccination."
Like Dhaka medical, the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital also saw a huge vaccine turnout. Though the eight booths of the university were scheduled to vaccinate 1,200 people, 1,834 citizens took Covid shots there.
BSMMU Director (Hospital) Brig Gen Zulfiqar Ahmed Amin said on-spot registration is going out of their capacity.
"This hampers the system. We may immunise 100 people without the system, but it is not possible to tackle thousands," he added.
"In our hospital, more than 400 people were vaccinated out of the schedule today. I do not know how many people will turn up Thursday and how many shots I need to bring. A good management will ruin in this way," Brig Gen Amin commented.
During the cabinet meeting Monday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina instructed the medical facilities to register and vaccinate individuals who would come to the vaccine centres with the NID card.
Vaccine turnout surged dramatically after the instruction, said Mohammadpur Fertility Centre Director Dr Moniruzzaman Siddiqui.
"People are demanding the shots just after spot registration which is mounting pressure on the management," he added.
He said the centre has made all the arrangements for on-spot registration. But even then, he requested people who have internet access to spend three to four minutes to sign up for the vaccination, and to come on the scheduled date.
Bangladesh rolled out the vaccination campaign on 7 February, and is carrying out the immunisation at 1,005 centres across the country. Except for the weekends, 2,400 teams are inoculating the citizens from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm every day. The first phase of the immunisation will continue until 7 March.
Echoing Dr Moniruzzaman, health directorate spokesperson Prof Robed Amin also urged people for registration prior to the vaccination.
Private sector wants to join vaccination campaign
Meanwhile, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said they are considering engaging the private sector to the mass vaccination campaign.
"The private sector now wants to provide vaccine services, which is a good news. If the prime minister approves, I will consider vaccination under the private sector," he told a discussion in the capital Wednesday.
In the first month of the campaign, Bangladesh plans to administer the vaccine to 35 lakh people.
30 diplomats receive Covid-19 shots
Bangladesh Wednesday initiated vaccination for foreign diplomats stationed in Dhaka. The programme was inaugurated at Sheikh Russel National Gastroliver Institute & Hospital in Mohakhali on Wednesday afternoon.
On the first day, 30 diplomats took the vaccine. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen also took the vaccine there.
On the occasion, State Minister Shahriar said Bangladesh will vaccinate 2,000 diplomats in phases.