The country has started rolling out the Moderna vaccine for children aged between 12 years to 17 years on 29 July. Children living in the 9 high-risk districts, which are the the 7 southern bordering Dzongkhags like Samtse, Chukha, Dagana, Sarpang, Zhemgang, Pemagatshel and Samdrupjongkhar and the high movement and population Dzongkhags like Thimphu and Paro, will be vaccinated. The children in Phuentsholing and Samtse were inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine too.
Around 49,000 students are eligible to get the vaccine in these nine districts and as of Monday around 38,000 have been vaccinated with the first dose.
After vaccinating the eligible population, the country was left with about 62,000 Moderna vaccines, and there are about 78,000 eligible children for the vaccine.
The Prime Minister Dasho (Dr) Lotay Tshering said since the Moderna vaccines is not enough to vaccinate the entire 78,000 children, the government plans to leave out school children in Gasa, Lhuntse, Bumthang and other schools in nine dzongkhags which are at low-risk. However, almost 85 percent of the children population will be covered for the first dose.
To achieve herd immunity against the Delta Variant, roughly about 80 percent of the population should be vaccinated. Now with vaccine roll out to 62,000 children, about 76-77 percent will be achieved, and that is good enough for the herd immunity.
There is a remaining 40,000 eligible adult population who are unvaccinated with the second dose, but they are being vaccinated everyday. So if the remaining eligible population and children age between 12 years to 17 years are vaccinated the country will achieve more than 80 percent of herd immunity.
However, the country can achieve herd immunity only when the children complete their second dose, said the Prime Minister.
The children will go for homologous vaccines. The children are given Moderna vaccine for the first dose, and the second dose, if possible. The Pfizer vaccine will also come in for others. The government is doing its best to procure enough Pfizer vaccines for children. It may be termed as heterologous, but technically, it is the same kind of vaccine.
The government is in talks to get more Moderna doses into the country.
The second dose for children will be given after 4 to 8 weeks. mRNA vaccines are recommended around 4 weeks after the first dose but it can go up to 8 weeks, said the Prime Minister.
The PM said the available vaccines are on trial for six months onwards. Experts are looking at how much dose is required, as some babies required more doses than adults, while some babies would require less.
Sinopharm is being rolled out for children above three years. Down the line, vaccines that are available in the world can be used for all.
As for the need to show a vaccination passport, any country that accepts AstraZeneca-AstraZeneca they will definitely accepts AstraZeneca-Moderna vaccine. Some countries will only accept Pfizer-Pfizer vaccines and Moderna-Moderna vaccine. So these countries might not accept people who have these.
As per the literature, the best two doses is either Pfizer-Pfizer or Moderna-Moderna. Second is AstraZeneca- Moderna or Pfizer.