30-year old Ninda Dema born in the monkey year takes the first COVID-19 vaccine

340,917 get vaccinated so far

As of Tuesday 2.30 pm 340,917 people got vaccinated.

Around 5,050 suffered from side effects like headache, fever and pain at injection site as of Monday evening.

 Ministry of Health (MoH) has identified 1001 vaccination centers housed in 363 schools, few ECCDs and institutions, and 45 doctors have been identified and deployed in the Eastern, Central and Western regions in the country.

There are six districts covered in the Eastern region. Tsirang, Dagana, Sarpang, Bumthang, Trongsa and Zhemgang are the six districts placed in the Central region. Chukha, Samtse, Wangdue, Gasa, Punakha, Paro, Haa and Thimphu are grouped under the Western region.

The vaccines were distributed via choppers and airplanes for eastern dzongkhags and highland areas of Lingzhi, Soe, Laya and Lunana. For the other dzongkhags, the vaccines were transported in refrigerated vans.

The National Immunization Technical Group has decided to cluster the vaccination sites into 140 clusters, and in each cluster, a doctor will be temporarily deployed to manage any kind of adverse reaction.

For that the ministry will be re-mobilizing 141 residents from the JDWNRH. For monitoring purposes and safety, the ministry has also identified three regional technical advisory groups that will be housed in Mongar Referral Hospital, Gelephu Referral Hospital and the National team will be housed in the JDWNRH.

Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said if pregnant mothers and lactating mothers wish to get immunized then the ministry will be offering the vaccine to them as well.

The health workers and active frontline workers will be immunized at a later date after the end date of the 7-day period. The rest of the health workers and frontline workers should be able to get the vaccination services at any time of the day within the 7 day campaign period.

There are about 1,200 individuals who cannot work, and the ministry has already done a line listing. They will be provided home-based immunization option after the 7-day campaign period and for elderly people above 70 years old will be inoculated in the health facilities

There are cohorts of people who are institution-based such as monks, college students, for them also the vaccination will be done after the 7-day campaign. However, it will depend on the individual districts given the diversity in population and group of categories of people that need to be immunized.

The Health Minister also talked on the adverse reaction of the immunization. She said people will experience some adverse reaction which is very normal, such as soreness at the site of injection, fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, muscle pain, cough which is a part of inoculation part, but the ministry encourage people to report to the respective doctors even if these are not a major concern, but to document these adversary reactions which will provide some additional scientific knowledge to the vaccine developers as well.

To achieve the maximum benefit of rolling out within a week period is to achieve herd immunity that will not only protect individuals but the nation as a whole.

The minister requested the public to come forward for the immunization because it is an ultimate responsibility and duty towards the nation. Reminding people that the country still has the risk of COVID-19 transmission, so when you come forward for immunization the public must follow the preventive measures.

The WHO view

Meanwhile, WHO Representative in Bhutan Dr Rui Paulo de Jesus, said it is important to understand that vaccination against COVID-19 will not reduce illness or deaths from other causes. Illness and deaths from other causes will continue to occur, including after vaccination, but are causally unrelated.  

 As of 16 March, over 326 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide since the start of the pandemic. No cases of death have been found to have been caused by COVID-19 vaccines to date.  Therefore, WHO is very much aligned with the position that we should continue immunization until we have clarified the causal relationship.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been administered to more than 10 million people in the United Kingdom with no evidence of related serious adverse events.  Over 25 countries have already rolled out the vaccine with millions immunized without any major side effects.

Covishield has been approved for emergency use by WHO after stringent review for its safety and its benefits. More millions of doses of the vaccines have been administered in many countries without any major safety issues. Therefore, given that the benefits of vaccination outweighs any risk, “I would encourage everyone to come forward to take the vaccine when the government starts the vaccination program,” said Dr Rui.

COVID-19 has killed over 2.6 million people so far globally. And of the 326 million vaccines, doses that have been deployed, WHO is not aware of any one confirmed COVID-19 vaccine related deaths. Dr Rui said that they can confidently say that the vaccines administered so far are safe.

More importantly, observational studies from countries that have administered vaccines widely show a significant reduction in hospitalization and as well as reduction in symptomatic COVID-19 cases.

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