Amid the lukewarm response from people to register for Covid-19 vaccination, the government has instructed local government representatives to ensure registration of people in rural areas.
The government has already instructed union parishad chairmen and members to bring eligible people to union digital centres and community healthcare centres to get people aged over 55 registered for vaccination.
“There are many people living in rural areas who do not have any smartphones and have little knowledge of registration. So, we have already sent letters and given verbal instruction to them [local government representatives] to encourage people to get registered,” Health Minister Zahid Maleque told The Daily Star yesterday.
The minister also said letters were sent to all deputy commissioners and civil surgeons across the country to launch massive awareness campaigns to encourage eligible persons to register for vaccination.
Meanwhile, online registration saw a sudden spike as more than one lakh people signed up for the Covid-19 vaccine yesterday.
Yesterday’s figure dwarfed the 80,000 registrations accumulated over the first week since the government launched the online website Surokkaha.gov.bd on January 27 for vaccine registration. However, the Surokkaha mobile app is still awaiting Google authorisation.
The mass vaccination will start from February 7 across the country and a total of 35 lakh people will be vaccinated in the first month.
With only two days to go for the start of the mass vaccination, government officials said around two lakh frontline workers of different professional groups and people aged over 55 have registered for vaccination till Thursday.
The officials however said they were expecting the registration to see a surge in the next few days with around 30 lakh frontline workers’ applications under process in the database.
“People are becoming interested and so the number of registrations is increasing,” the minister added.
Directorate General of Health Services officials said they are still collecting lists from various frontline professional bodies and have so far collected around 30 lakh names.
“We have sent the data to the Department of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and they will clean the data and prepare entries for individual registration [of frontline workers],” said a top DGHS official.
He also said part of the problem was that some sent data in PDF format, some in Bangla, some in English.
“It is a huge task to bring all that data under a system. That’s why it is taking some time.”
The health official said once the data is entered in the backup system, problems of people struggling to get registered will be solved.
Since the Surokkha website was launched on January 27, the registration progressed slowly with some complaining about difficulties in logging in.
A total of 7,344 teams will be deployed across the country to carry out the campaign. There will be two vaccinators and four volunteers in each team that will inoculate around 150 people a day. The vaccinators will include nurses.
The government has already trained 14,688 vaccinators and 29,376 volunteers to administer the vaccine doses. There will be three vaccine centres in every Upazila, officials said.
Bangladesh got 50 lakh doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from Serum Institute of India (SII) on January 25. The government purchased three crore shots of the Oxford vaccine from SII. As per the contract, Bangladesh will get 50 lakh doses every month.
The country has also received 20 lakh doses of the Oxford vaccine as a gift from the Indian government.
Besides, the COVAX programme, led by the World Health Organisation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has committed to giving Bangladesh a total of 6.8 crore vaccine shots. COVAX published a list on Wednesday saying Bangladesh will get around 1.28 crore shots of vaccines in the first quarter of 2021.