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June 14, 2021

Promoting the jab

 
June 14, 2021

While Pakistan now has a significant stock of Covid-19 vaccines at hand, the problem is that according to figures released by the NCOC not enough people are taking them up. In the first place, perhaps due to a lack of information, many people have failed to turn up for the second dose of vaccines which require two jabs. Currently in Pakistan, 10 million doses have been administered. 2.8 billion people are fully vaccinated and 5.28 million are partially vaccinated. This amounts to just over one percent of the population. The number is not enough to get us anywhere close to herd immunity or even to dealing with the virus and the new variants, which continue to crop up. The growing awareness regarding this problem within the official circles handling the vaccination drive has led to the NCOC announcing on its website and in public that all government servants must receive the Covid-19 jab or are at risk of losing their jobs. They have also made it mandatory for all private company employees to receive the vaccine. The vaccine had already been made mandatory for schoolteachers and other workers in the educational sector, as schools reopen across the country, at least for a week or two.

The issue is that many people continue to resist the vaccine because of the fake news put over social media and also because of the lack of information available to them from credible sources, such as doctors with standing, celebrities, and other figures who should be shown on television, receiving their jab. It is vital to Pakistan that as many people as possible receive the vaccine, and that the country is able to escape the effects of the Covid-19 crisis that have crippled many parts of its working, notably in the education centre, but also other areas for almost a year and a half. The only way to make this happen is to deliver more and more vaccines to people. The announcement by the NCOC is useful and perhaps necessary in a situation such as ours -- though compulsory vaccination or any medical procedure does raise some ethical questions.

At the same time there is a need to make the vaccine even more easily available. The Expo Centre in Sindh is working well with its set of cubicles delivering vaccines and the drive-through facility being established at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium could also encourage people to receive the jab without leaving their cars. But of course, a drive-through is only useful for people who own cars and can read the news about the facility. In the meanwhile, tens of thousands of villagers and people from poorer sections of society, remain without vaccination and this is something that has to be dealt with through mobile teams moving across areas and by setting up vaccination centres at pharmacies or clinics everywhere in the country.