Upon receiving 198,900 doses of Pfizer vaccine on September 7, the health ministry started rolling out the second dose for more than 59,000 eligible children in the 12 to 17 years category and first dose for around 20,000 remaining children.
The vaccine is fully funded by the Royal Government of Bhutan and the cost of the vaccine is Nu. 101.377 million. The rollout had been tentatively planned in the 2nd -3rd week of September, 2021, according to the MoH.
Dr Sonam Wangchuk of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group said children above 12 years to 17 years are all provided with the first dose in the South and the second dose is being rolled out this week. Once all the children are vaccinated with the second dose, it will further increase the vaccination coverage in the country, nearly attaining 80 percent vaccine coverage.
All the children from 13 districts have been vaccinated with the first dose and children in the seven districts are left. While, children who received their first dose will be given their second dose and , simultaneously, first dose will be given to children in the seven districts. All the children will be inoculated in their respective schools.
Dr Sonam said there are few school dropouts, these children will be informed by the local leaders of the respective dzongkhags to come for their first dose of vaccine.
Those who were given Pfizer as their first dose will be given Pfizer and the maximum cohort which is more than 58,000 children were given the Moderna vaccine. However, children who received the Moderna vaccine as first dose will be given Pfizer vaccine. Dr Sonam Wangchuk said Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are the messenger RNA vaccines, so it is not a mix and match vaccine. It is manufactured by two different companies but it is the same vaccine. So it is recommended by the experts.
Dr Sonam said the second Pfizer dose is due sometime in the third week of September, as per the six-week interval recommendation made by the National Immunization Technical Team (NI-TAG).
Bhutan can attain almost 90 percent of vaccine coverage if there is an approval of vaccination of 6 years to 11 years children, said Dr Sonam.