Ever since our authority started immunisation of people against the COVID-19 pandemic, the government is effortful to give continuity to the vaccination programmes. The past government was deeply engaged in this immunisation process throughout the country. Several doses of the vaccine have arrived in the country through purchases and grants. Apart from 4 million doses from China, the US has given 1.5 million doses and Japan has promised to provide 1.6 million doses. After the new government came to the helm, the Chinese government promised to give another 1.6 million doses of shots. The country will receive hundreds of thousands of doses under the COVAX programme. All these incidents tell us that Nepal is on course to receive enough vaccines.
However, having vaccines is not enough when it comes to immunising the entire population. The immunisation campaign thus requires meticulous management of the vaccination centres along with the manpower required for the campaign. Over the past few days, we have witnessed vaccination centres across the Kathmandu Valley swarmed by the vaccine hopefuls. On Friday, many vaccination centres saw massive numbers of people standing in serpentine queues to receive COVID-19 shots only to be returned home without receiving the jabs. The government later stopped the vaccination citing a shortage of vaccines. The vaccination drive, according to the Ministry of Health and Population, will resume after the vaccine consignments start arriving Nepal in a few days.
With the rise in the COVID fear, the people are thronging vaccination centres, giving the authorities a tough time. As news of long queues of vaccine hopefuls made the rounds, the newly appointed Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba instructed the concerned officials to expand the vaccination centres so that people would not have to stand in long queues under scorching sun to receive the vaccine shots. While expressing his concerns over the serpentine queues of the people, which is an outcome of limited numbers of vaccination centres, PM Deuba directed the officials that health safety standards must be adhered to even when the centres are increased for the benefit of the common people.
A limited number of centres pose difficulties in providing vaccines to as many people as they are targeted. In the meantime, if the vaccines are not administered in due time, the authority faces difficulty in their management because the coronavirus shots have a few days of expiry date and need to be stored at a low temperature. All these management aspects should spur our authority to increase the number of vaccination points throughout the nation so that the people could access the shots quite easily, without having to face health risks.
With the coronavirus fear still high in our society, vaccination appears to be the most feasible choice to deal with the dreaded disease. Our authorities will do well if they run the vaccination campaign in such a way that it would make people comfortable to receive these vaccines. At times, people appear less interested in getting them just because they feel discouraged by the long queues and by the dread of catching the virus disease. The PM's instructions to increase the number of vaccination centres and capability of such centres come at an opportune time when the country is witnessing the arrival of hundreds of thousands of doses of vaccines.