Friday September 17, 2021

Vaccination pace

September 14, 2021

Since early 2020, any good news has been hard to come by. As the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated its spread the world over, Pakistan too became one of its victims. Finally, after nearly 20 months, the country has shown an appreciable performance in administering a good number of doses to the citizens of Pakistan. The federal capital has become the first city in the country to achieve the milestone of having over half of its eligible population fully vaccinated. It is also encouraging that over 70 percent of people in Islamabad have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Now it is up to other cities and provinces to follow suit by expediting the process of administering the second dose. The number of coronavirus patients has also decreased by 40 percent in one month. But one alarming aspect of the situation is that active cases still remain over 90,000 whereas in the beginning of July this year the number of active cases was just around 31,000.

This three-fold increase gives us a warning that there is no need to be complacent at this moment unless the disease is entirely under control. This we cannot achieve without an acceleration of the second dose in all cities and towns across the country. At the moment only those cities are ahead in vaccination whose population is over one million, as the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has focused on major cities initially. Now there is a need to target the remaining areas including smaller towns and villages. Ideally, all of the eligible population should be able to get vaccination near their homes or at least in their towns.

Those cities and towns should become a priority now where the vaccination pace is slow and which are behind the target. The people who have avoided taking vaccination pose a serious threat to their own and other people’s lives. Some have just abandoned the process after taking the first dose. This hesitancy or negligence is a real menace and can trounce all the good efforts that the federal and provincial ministries for health and the NCOC have been doing. There is a need to amplify the awareness campaign so that the people who show hesitancy in accepting vaccination become convinced of its efficacy. At the moment, nearly half of the people who take the first dose show some reluctance to go for the second. This is an alarming trend which the government must tackle by doing much more than just repeating the message on telephone calls. Pakistan should not yet adopt any kind of complacency regarding Covid-19. Like the rest of the world, it remains under threat from a disease which may never quite go away.