The government on Monday rolled out Covid-19 vaccines to school-going children aged 12-17 in the capital for the first time.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque and Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni jointly inaugurated the vaccination campaign at 9:30am on the day at Motijheel Ideal School. Earl R Miller, US ambassador to Bangladesh, also attended the event, among others.
On the day, 2,000 students were jabbed at 12 booths in four rooms of the school from the morning till evening.
In the first phase, the immunisation drive will be conducted at eight school campuses in the city. On Monday, however, students were jabbed only at the Motijheel Ideal School centre while the immunisation drive will be launched in the other seven centres today.
Students and parents have expressed satisfaction over the move, hoping the campaign will ensure the health safety of millions of students in the country.
Sabreen Reza, an SSC examinee who received the vaccine, told The Business Standard, "I was a little scared before I got the shot, but now I am feeling alright."
"We are very happy that our children are being vaccinated," Kona Islam, a parent, told TBS, adding, "Now they can come to the class with some peace of mind."
Tanmoy, a ninth-grade student, said, "Initially, we were apprehensive. On one hand, the educational institutions were closed and on the other hand, we were not included in the vaccination programme. After getting vaccinated, now I am relieved."
The campaign was initially planned to be conducted at 12 centres in the city, but four of them did not get approval due to lack of adequate facilities.
The seven schools where the campaign will be launched today are Hurdco International School, South Point School and College, Chittagong Grammar School, Dhaka, Mirpur Commerce College, Kakoli High School and College, South Bridge School, and Scholastica School.
Students can register for vaccination by visiting the website https://surokkha.gov.bd/birth-reg-enroll.
A notice from the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education said that the information of students obtained from the educational institutions has been included for registration in the Surokkha website.
After inaugurating the campaign, the health minister said, "Initially, we've started the vaccination programme at eight schools and some 5,000 students will be vaccinated in each centre daily. Students below 12 years won't be vaccinated now as steps have been taken to bring all students aged 12-17 years, including those who have dropped out, under the campaign."
He said, "We've got 96 lakh doses of Pfizer vaccine while 82 lakh doses are in hand. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said they'll provide more Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The Pfizer vaccine doses will be given at upazila level as well."
Education Minister Dipu Moni said full-scale academic activities will resume soon after a successful vaccination of students.
According to the ministry, there are almost one crore students aged between 12 and 17 across the country.
Apart from the students of the eight initially identified educational institutions, those from various educational institutions in the vicinity will also be vaccinated in the first phase of the drive, said the health directorate.
Besides, preparations are being made to vaccinate school children in 22 districts outside Dhaka. The immunisation programme will start in these districts soon. School and college-level students will be vaccinated in all districts of the country in phases.