School children aged 12-17 will receive their Covid-19 vaccines this week at 21 centres in the capital and other districts and upazilas, says the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
At first, 50-100 children will be vaccinated on a trial basis and monitored for a few days, said DGHS Director General Professor Dr ABM Khurshid Alam on Tuesday.
"Children will be vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. This vaccine is technically demanding as it has to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius. Therefore, we have selected 21 centres in the districts and city corporations for storing the vaccine," said the DGHS director general.
He said a lot of preparation is required for the vaccination such as training the health workers who will vaccinate children and sending the vaccines to the centres maintaining the prescribed cold chain.
"Some of our preparations have been completed. Hopefully, we will be able to start vaccination within this week. We have selected some places, but not yet decided where to start from," he added.
Children would be registered through the school for the time being. School authorities will upload the list to surokkha.gov.bd.
Professor Shahan Ara Begum, Principal, Ideal School and College, Motijheel, told The Business Standard that the upazila education office had collected a list of students of class 6-10 three weeks ago. There has been no update since then. They might inform about the vaccination after the puja holidays.
Some districts cannot store Pfizer vaccine and vaccination in those districts will be a challenge.
In this regard, Dr Khurshid Alam said, "For the time being, we have to accept it. Later, if necessary, children will be vaccinated in the neighbouring districts or the vaccine storage capacity of the districts will be increased."
According to the DGHS, the Pfizer vaccine will be provided in 19 districts where vaccines were sent on Monday. Health workers concerned have already been trained.
Initially, the districts where Pfizer will be provided are Barishal, Bhola, Jhalakathi, Chattogram, Chandpur, Cumilla, Lakshmipur, Noakhali, Gazipur, Narsingdi, Tangail, Jessore, Satkhira, Mymensingh, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Sunamganj, Sylhet and Habiganj.
Of these, vaccines will be given at four centres in Chattogram, two in Chandpur, two in Noakhali, three in Narsingdi, two in Mymensingh and eight in Rajshahi.
Apart from these, there will be eight centres in Dhaka North and Dhaka South.
Twenty-six more districts, including Manikganj, Gopalganj, Narayanganj, will be brought under vaccination in the future.
Earlier, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Gavi, a public-private global health partnership, have nodded their consent to the initiative.
At present, the government has 60 lakh Pfizer doses in stock, all of which will be used to fully inoculate 30 lakh students, according to the minister.
16,000 Pfizer vaccines reached Chattogram to be used at two centres
Pfizer vaccine has reached Chattogram for the first time. At midnight on Monday, 16,380 doses of vaccine arrived at the Civil Surgeon's Office in Chattogram.
Pfizer vaccine will be provided at Andarkilla General Hospital and Bandar Hospital in the city.
Chattogram Civil Surgeon Dr Mohammad Elias Chowdhury told The Business Standard, "The vaccines have been specially preserved in the EPI Centre House and will be supplied to two centres as per demand."
Andarkilla General Hospital Deputy Director Dr Sheikh Fazle said it was not yet clear when vaccination would begin.
14 Covid-19 deaths, 543 new cases reported in 24 hours
Bangladesh reported 14 deaths from Covid-19 and 543 new cases in the last 24 hours till 8am Tuesday.
The health officials recorded a 2.35% positivity rate after testing 23,155 samples across the country.
With the latest additions, the death toll reached 27,713 and the case tally increased to 15.63 lakh in the country.