The countrywide Covid-19 vaccination campaigns will begin earlier than the scheduled time with vaccine doses as a gift from India coming in a day or two, said Health Minister Zahid Maleque on Tuesday.
Bangladesh will receive some 20 lakh doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from India as a gift on Thursday.
Maleque said he will receive the shipment of free vaccines from India at the Dhaka airport himself.
"We are hoping that the shipment will arrive tomorrow [Wednesday] or the day after," the minister said after a meeting on the vaccine management at the health directorate in the capital on Tuesday.
Two lakh people will be inoculated per day after receiving the first shipment of coronavirus vaccine doses, Zahid Maleque revealed, adding that frontline health workers will be the first to get the jab.
"We will begin the vaccination countrywide after it [the vaccine as a gift] reaches us. It will begin in Dhaka."
Four teams will operate at the district level, two at the upazila level, and six teams at medical colleges. Some other teams will work in hospitals and different government organisations, Zahid said.
"Around 28,000 volunteers will work in the immunisation programme. We have a preparation of storing 20 lakh doses in the first shipment and 50 lakh doses, which will come later," he added.
The health directorate is also ready to preserve and distribute vaccine doses, maintaining a cold chain.
Bangladesh purchased 3 crore doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from Serum Institute of India. Some 50 lakh doses in the first shipment are expected to arrive in Dhaka by January 25.
Meanwhile, the government has formed a 15-member national vaccine quality assurance committee to ensure the control, safety and effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines in accordance with the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
Besides, a 14-member Divisional AEFI (Adverse event following immunisation) causality assessment committee for Covid-19 vaccine has also been formed.
The Director General of Directorate General of Health Services in Mohakhali in a notice confirmed the matter.
The committee formulated a pharmacovigilance protocol to ensure the safety of the use of the Covid-19 vaccine, which has been approved by the DGHS and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Vaccine doses to be preserved in EPI storage
Covid-19 vaccine doses gifted by India will be preserved in the cold storage of the capital's Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI).
The authorities concerned are now working to ensure all the arrangements as only a few hours left before the arrival of the vaccine doses.
While visiting the EPI cold storage in Tejgaon area on Tuesday, four workers were seen to wash and wipe the facility.
One of them told The Business Standard that they generally work for an organisation named "Pacific." Now, they are working for EPI in contract.
Earlier on Tuesday morning, Director General of the Directorate General of Health Services Prof ABM Khurshid Alam told the media that the government prepared three alternative storages for preserving the Covid vaccines.
"EPI's headquarters, EPI repository at Tejgaon and Central Medical Store Depot have been prepared to store the vaccines," he said.
According to the health directorate, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine needs to be preserved in the walk-in cooler. Some 29 districts of the country already have such facilities and other 18 districts are making arrangements.
Besides, there are ice Lined Refrigerator (ILR) facilities in each district and upazila of the country. The vaccines will be stored in those ILRs and transported on separate frozen boxes.