The number of vaccine recipients on the first day across Bangladesh has been only 31,160 against the country's single-day capacity to jab 1.5 lakh people.
Experts have linked this poor response to inadequate campaigns on vaccine benefits, side effects and its efficacy, as well as a difficult registration process.
On Sunday, the vaccination campaign finally kick-started at 1,005 centres across the country, dispelling all speculations and uncertainty, aiming to vaccinate 35 lakh people in the first month.
Health Minister Dr Zahid Maleque virtually inaugurated the immunisation drive at 10am.
Bangladesh is planning to inoculate 80% of its population, with each person getting two doses administered four weeks apart.
Prof Sayedur Rahman, chairman at the pharmacology department of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, told The Business Standard, "There are only a few countries like Bangladesh with a stock of 70 lakh vaccine doses. But it is a total failure on the part of those engaged in the vaccination process with only 31,000 people having received the jab on the first day."
"The people have not been assured of vaccine benefits and its effectiveness. And, the health department has failed to make it clear to people that this is a vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, not by India. The company that manufactured it is a well-reputed one and the biggest supplier of vaccines in the world," he added.
Besides, people are also reluctant to register online for vaccination as it is a very difficult process, Prof Sayedur also said.
The vaccination will be successful if all those problems are solved, he said.
As of Sunday at 7 pm, 4.18 lakh people have registered for vaccination in the country.
Nazmul Islam, director for disease control and spokesperson at the health directorate, said people's approach in getting the jab on the first day was conservative.
"Many still hesitate to get the vaccine, thinking of the possible side-effects. I hope more people will be encouraged in the coming days after seeing many prominent personalities taking the vaccine on the first day," he added.
Nazmul said the people who did not turn up for vaccination on Sunday would be vaccinated in any later days.
"They have to only carry the vaccination card and NID with them," he said.
Meanwhile, several ministers, a good number of government high officials and some noted citizens received the shot. All are doing well after being vaccinated and have called upon all countrymen to come for inoculation.
"The vaccination programme will run round the year. We want people to resume their normal life and do not expect any criticism over vaccination. The jabs are being given to save the lives of people," said the health minister after inaugurating the countrywide vaccination drive.
Later, Zahid took the jab at a booth of the Russel Gastroliver Institute and Hospital.
After receiving Covid-19 vaccine, the Health Minister Zahid Maleque on Sunday said the vaccine means victory.
"We want to achieve victory through the vaccination programme," said the minister.
"Many notable people have also taken the vaccine along with us. We sincerely thank them for taking the vaccine with us. We are doing well after the vaccination. No one showed any side effects. I did not even feel any pain in my arm," the minister said.
"We have not yet heard anything about adverse vaccine reactions from any district. If anyone develops side effects, treatment is available. Doctors and nurses are ready," Zahid Maleque added.
"This vaccine is completely safe, do not spread rumours about the vaccine," he added.
After receiving the vaccine, Dr Mohammad Shahidullah, president of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, TBS, "I request all to come up for vaccination by dispelling all confusions."
No decision yet over when to start on-spot registration
The health minister has directed the people concerned to make necessary arrangements so that no one returns without vaccination after traveling a long distance.
However, officials at the health directorate have not yet decided on the strategy on how to implement the directive and offer registration facilities at the vaccination centres.
Professor Meerjady Sabrina Flora, additional director general at the health directorate, said, "We want to vaccinate on the basis of registration. Otherwise, there will be problems for those who will come to get the vaccine. But, we have been instructed to provide the on-spot registration facility so that no one comes back without getting vaccinated."
It has not been decided yet when the on-spot registration starts. More than 3.5 lakh people have so far registered online for vaccination, and no decision will be taken on the on-spot registration before their vaccination ends, she added.
Ministers, dignitaries and senior government officials who took vaccines
Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzak, Minister for Science and Technology Yeafesh Osman, Minister for Fisheries and Livestock SM Rezaul Karim, State Minister for Public Administration Forhad Hossain, President of National Technical Advisory Committee Dr Mohammad Shahidullah, Former vice Chancellor of BSMMU Professor Nazrul Islam, Chief Coordinator of the burn units across the country Dr Samanta Lal Sen, President of Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) Dr Mostafa Jalal Mohiuddin, BMA secretary Dr Ehteshamul Haque Choudhury Dulal, and president of Swadhinata Chikitshok Parishad Dr MA Aziz also took vaccine at Sheikh Russel Gastroliver Institute and Hospital centre where five teams inoculated 160 people on Sunday.
Cabinet Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam inaugurated the vaccination at the capital's Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery.
Senior secretary to the local government department Helaluddin Ahmed, Senior Secretary to the Finance Division Abdur Rouf Talukder, former commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Ashaduzzaman Mia, former Chief Justice ABM Khairul Haque took the jab at the burn institute.