The Financial Express

The crucial mass vaccination drive

| Updated: August 06, 2021 21:40:33

The crucial mass vaccination drive

The government's announcement that mass vaccination drive at the Union level will start from August 07 could not have come a day later. Further, reports have it that arrangements have been made so that at the Union level people with or without NID cards will get the jabs. This is definitely a practical approach towards a speedy and hassle-free conduct of the inoculation drive. Amid the spiralling positivity rate and attendant fatalities from Covid-19, such a government decision is crucially important. The fact, that the vaccination programme could finally be resumed after a long gap of three months since it halted in the last week of April is relieving but the pressure mounts as there is no looking back. That is so because it is in the nature of any pandemic to spread the infection at an exponential rate as the positivity curve goes on a steep climb. In such a situation, even a day's gap can make a difference in launching a containment measure.

In this context, the government deserves plaudits as it has succeeded in procuring the vaccines from other countries following the Indian source of vaccine, with which the first inoculation campaign was initiated, went dry. No wonder that, though Bangladesh was able to make an early start regarding the anti-Covid vaccination programme, it lost the pace midway. As such, with hindsight, the government this time will be required to take precaution to avoid the kind of situation in which the first inoculation drive stalled. That will necessitate having adequate supply of serum in hand to continue the vaccination programme uninterrupted. Also, keeping an eye on the availability of the vaccines as well as having the necessary logistical support in place, the target of the inoculation campaign has to be set in such a way that it is achievable. In case of break due to any unforeseen turn of events, those in charge of the drive will have to make sure that the amount of the vaccines in hand is enough to provide at least the second shot for a recipient of the first jab.

Since this time the implementers of the inoculation programme will be dealing with more than one variety of the jab, the logistical challenges they are going to come up against will also be diverse. For each kind of vaccine has its specific requirements relating to its reception, storage, distribution and management. There will also be the challenges of distributing the vaccines from the port of entry to the most remote vaccination sites. Also, it has to be ensured that throughout the supply chain the quality, efficacy, proper tracking and reporting on vaccine utilisation are properly maintained. Lastly will come the issue of managing and disposing of the waste to protect people and the environment.

The technical aspects of the inoculation drive apart, there is also the question of having an army of experienced inoculators, medics and other support staff for the smooth conduct of the programme. Notably, in Bangladesh, inoculators have gathered a long field-level experience from the various immunisation drives carried out in the past. Hence, it is believed that given their rich past experience in the job, implementers of the upcoming inoculation drive are adequately equipped to meet the challenge.

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