Bangladesh kicks off COVID-19 vaccination drive for schoolchildren

Bangladesh on Monday began COVID-19 vaccination for schoolchildren aged 12 to 17 years in the capital Dhaka for the first time, Anadolu Agency reports.

Education Minister Dipu Moni and Health Minister Zahid Maleque jointly inaugurated the campaign at a school in the business hub of Motijheel.

In the first phase, the immunization drive was launched simultaneously at eight school campuses.

Students and parents have expressed satisfaction over the move, hoping the campaign will ensure the health safety of millions of students in the country of nearly 170 million people.

Nearly 20 million people live in the capital Dhaka, making the megacity one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

“I feel safe after taking the first dose as every day I have to travel in crowded public transport,” Mohammad Sad, a student of Motijheel Ideal School and College, told Anadolu Agency.

Welcoming the drive, Lamia Anzum, another student, said more vaccination centers should be set up to cover all students. “I am happy now. But I want to see all students vaccinated within a short time and it should not be just as an experiment.”

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Mohammad Sogir Hossain, father of a student in capital Dhaka’s Jatrabari area, said the vaccination drive for all students across the country should be completed by December.

While some welcomed, others expressed concerns. Moksedul Kamal Babu, father of another student, said: “I am in confusion right now. I will wait and get my daughter inoculated after observing the result of this drive.”

Initially, some 5,000 students would be vaccinated in each center daily with a target to inoculate 3 million students in the first phase, according to sources in the Health Ministry.

“The dropout students aged between 12 and 17 years will also be included in the campaign,” the health minister said.

Meanwhile, the education minister said full-scale academic activities would resume soon after the successful completion of vaccination of all students across the country.

The South Asian nation postponed all in-presence academic activities for an indefinite period after registering first infections and deaths in March 2020. Limited in-person education resumed this September.

The nation has recorded around 1.6 million cases and nearly 27,900 related deaths. Over 60.9 million vaccine doses have been administered, with 20.6 million people, or 12.5% of the population, fully vaccinated.


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