Govt working on getting vaccines for 5-11 and is planning to procure a fourth dose
During the press conference by the PMO concern was raised about health ministry’s plan for the booster dose vaccination (which was supposed to roll out on January 24) as well as vaccine procurement for children and how some of the vaccine which will expire in February and March, be used.
Technical Advisory Group member Dr Sonam Wangchuk clarified that the ministry still has around 370,00 thousand booster doses left which will be enough for the leftover population (even those in low risk areas), but the booster vaccination had been deferred due to lockdown and risk of COVID infection. However, the booster doses for green zones will be administered shortly.
The doctor added that the vaccines for the dzongkhags had already been deployed and as soon as the lockdown gets lifted, the booster dose will be rolled out in the remaining dzongkhags.
The prime minister said that all frontline workers are given booster doses along with more than 70,000 people with comorbid conditions as well as those above 65 years of age and those above 12 years living in the high risk areas.
The only ones who did not get the booster dose were of 12-64 years of age who were healthy and without any medical conditions in low risk areas. The PM clarified that the booster dose was only going to be rolled out in case of potential national outbreak, i.e., when 70 percent of nation undergoes lockdown due to threat of the virus outbreak. That was decided a few days ago. Now in the current view of the situation, the dose will begin to be administered starting from green zones shortly.
Regarding the procurement of vaccines for children of 5-11, the documents for the vaccine has been signed and and funds approved by the government.
There is no exact date when the vaccine will arrive and the vaccine will be Pfizer vaccine, but people can expect it to come as soon as possible according to Dr. Sonam. The biggest risk of the virus is infection to children younger than 11 years of age as they are all unvaccinated and might suffer greater symptoms.
The Prime Minister Dasho (Dr) Lotay Tshering said ministry of health and foreign affairs have been requested to explore the sources of vaccines for the next booster (fourth dose and second booster). It is unclear whether the next booster will be six months or one year after the first booster but it is clear that there is requirement for the additional booster as some countries are already giving it.
Lyonchhen said the only risk is that if the virus changes its pathology and the old booster is no longer effective and there is a new vaccine.