Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said Bangladesh has made history by launching the vaccination campaign before many other countries across the world.
“Today is a historic day for Bangladesh," Hasina announced. "Many countries in the world are yet to start inoculating their populations, but we’ve done it despite having a dense population and limited economic power,” she said.
“Today, it has been proved that we work for the welfare of the people,” the prime minister added.
The prime minister made the remarks while inaugurating the COVID-19 vaccination programme aiming to end the coronavirus pandemic in the country, report bdnews24.com and UNB.
The programme was arranged at Kurmitola General Hospital. The prime minister joined the programme through a videoconference from Ganabhaban. She regretted not being able to join the event in person.
A nurse of Kurmitola General Hospital, Runu Veronica Costa, received the first COVID vaccine shot. Hasina also watched four others taking jabs. As many as 21 others were given the shots later.
The prime minister talked to all the recipients to keep up their morale while taking the doses of the vaccine and thanked them for receiving the inoculation first.
Expressing gratitude to almighty Allah, the prime minister said, “We have been able to buy and bring the vaccine in time. And we will be able to protect the people by administering the doses from today.”
Hasina thanked the government of India for sending two million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine as gift. Bangladesh has bought another 30 million doses of the vaccine from the Serum Institute of India and the first batch of five million shots has arrived in the country.
The prime minister sought everyone’s cooperation to make the campaign a success, saying that the rest of the doses will continue coming as per the deal.
She took a swipe at the critics of the government regarding vaccination programme, saying that it is their habit to criticise any work and create doubts among people.
"Unfortunately, we’ve some people here who exhibit a negative attitude to everything. Though people don't get help from them, they criticise any work adversely, create doubts, fear and panic among people over it. This is their habits," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said they have been suffering from a disease of ill-feeling they find faults in everything. "I don't know what the treatment is and whether any vaccine will be available for it?" she said.
“They raise many questions over whether the vaccine will come or not, what it would be its price and what will be its side-effects,” she said.
The prime minister said she wants them to be courageous to have the vaccine. "If they come, we'll provide them with the vaccine so that they remain protected. If anything happens to them who’ll criticise us. It needs to have critics as well. If so we’ll be able to know our faults."
Health Minister Zahid Maleque and top health officials were present at the hospital.
At the function, the health minister said a total of 7.0 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines are available at this moment in the country.
He said Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is the safest one in the world. The treatment facilities are there in the case of any side-effect of the vaccination is seen the minister added.
The online registration for possible recipients of the inoculation has also started, said PMO Secretary Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah while conducting the event.
To get registered for the vaccination, one will have to do that through www.surokkha.gov.bd, he said.
Around 500 others will be vaccinated on Thursday and the authorities will observe them for at least a week following the World Health Organization protocol before starting mass vaccination in early February.