Asad Umar, the Minister of Planning and Development, declared the commencement of a two-week home vaccination campaign on Tuesday, with the goal of administering over 35 million coronavirus vaccine doses as the fifth wave of the pandemic sweeps the country.
Umar remarked during a press conference in Islamabad alongside Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan: “The NCOC (National Command and Operation Centre) has been preparing for a big campaign that will begin in all parts of the country soon. Over 55,000 mobile teams will visit households to administer vaccinations “He went on to say that the campaign’s first phase will begin today and last two weeks.
He said a goal of administering more than 35 million vaccine doses had been set, admitting that it was a “big ambition,” but that appropriate preparations had been made, including as training mobile teams and ensuring vaccine supply.
The campaign was launched after it was discovered that places with higher vaccination rates were more protected from the deadly effects of Covid-19, with vaccinated persons having minor symptoms. Umar, who also heads the NCOC, explained the reasons for the initiative.
Umar claimed that about 80 million people have been fully vaccinated and over 10 million had gotten one shot, providing updates on the country’s immunisation progress thus far. He also mentioned that booster doses were becoming more widely available, and he encouraged people to receive their second dose or a booster dose if they were eligible.
SAPM Sultan also stated that the government had previously stated that anyone may get a booster shot, but that this was no longer the case due to scientific data. He emphasised that the only way to avoid the constraints of the previous two years and safeguard one’s health from major Covid consequences was to become vaccinated.
The SAPM urged citizens to work with and welcome the mobile immunisation teams.
Meanwhile, Sindh Minister for Health Dr. Azra Pechuho provided details on the province’s immunisation drive. The province health department shared a video of the minister on Twitter, saying the goal of the campaign was to “reach remote regions as well as help people who cannot access immunisation facilities otherwise.”
“If you work with us, we will be free of the Covid pandemic,” Pechuho added. “Right now, unvaccinated individuals are being hospitalised to hospitals and their health is deteriorating.”
The announcements follow a period of consistently high daily Covid counts. On Monday, Pakistan reported more than 7,000 Covid-19 cases for the fifth day in a row, with a nationwide positive rate of 11.53 percent.
On January 29, Pakistan had its highest-ever number of Covid cases in a 24-hour period — 8,183. In comparison, the maximum number of patients infected with Covid-19 in a single day was 6,825 on June 13, 2020, during the first year of the outbreak in Pakistan.
According to a document seen by Dawn, the positive rate in 12 cities — Karachi, Hyderabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Bahawalpur, Mirpur, Peshawar, Nowshera, Mardan, Islamabad, Quetta, and Muzaffarabad — was greater than 10%.
The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), which represents the medical community, has expressed worry about the persistently high Covid-19 positive ratio across the country.
The medical group also asked the government to enforce the SOPs uniformly throughout the country. “We also advise the public to take preventative measures, such as wearing masks whenever they go out, maintaining social distance, washing or sanitising their hands at regular intervals, avoiding shaking hands and hugging, and not going out unnecessarily,” it said.