KATHMANDU, MAY 7
The plan to inoculate citizens aged 65 and above with the second dose of coronavirus vaccine is unlikely to materialise any time soon, as the government has failed to import adequate number of vaccines.
According to Jhalak Gautam, chief of child health and immunisation section, Family Welfare Division, the government doesn't have enough stock of vaccines to conduct the campaign. "We don't have a single dose left in our central storage in Teku. The vaccines were distributed among districts for the vaccination campaign.
Nepal has only about one lakh doses of Covishield and 50,000 doses of Vero Cell," he said.
With cases of coronavirus infections rising exponentially after Nepal was hit by a second wave of the pandemic, those who had the first dose of vaccine more than eight weeks ago are getting impatient.
Bhawani Poudel, a resident of Kusunti, had the first dose of vaccine months back. "It seems we will keep waiting forever for the second dose," she said.
Narayani Sharma of Pancha Kumari, Kathmandu, said, "I don't think the government will be able to give us the second dose, as it has run out of stock.
What is the use of taking one dose of a vaccine that is effective only after two doses?" she questioned.
"Out of two million doses of Covishield vaccine that the government had imported from Serum Institute of India, Nepal got only one million. Another one million were promised by the end of March. But we are still waiting," said Gautam.
The second dose of Covishield vaccine has to be administered within eight to 12 weeks of the first dose for maximum effect.
"The government must procure the vaccine immediately because people aged 65 and above are waiting for their second dose of the vaccine," said Sujan Marahatta, epidemiologist and public health expert.
The authorities concerned should have kept ample of stock of vaccines to administer the second dose to those who have got their first jab, but they finished the stock by giving more people the first shot. "As a result a large number of people are waiting for the second shot and the government should bring the vaccine at any cost," said Marahatta.
Gautam said efforts were on to procure vaccines. "The vaccination campaign will begin immediately once we get the vaccines," he added.
A version of this article appears in the print on May 8, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.