Saturday September 23, 2023

Children vaccination with US-donated Covid jabs begins

September 20, 2022

Islamabad:The US and Pakistani officials visited the Mass Covid-19 Vaccination Centre in the F-9, Fatima Jinnah Park here on Monday to launch a nationwide campaign for the inoculation of children with the first batch of eight million Pfizer coronavirus paediatric vaccine jabs donated by Washington.

US Ambassador Donald Blome joined national health services minister Abdul Qadir Patel for the inauguration of the life-saving exercise planned for Islamabad and selected districts of Sindh and Punjab provinces. Executive Director of the National Institute of Health Major General Dr Aamer Ikram, Director General (Health Services) Dr Shabana Salem and other senior Pakistani government officials also attended the event. According to officials, since the start of the pandemic in February 2020, the United States has committed to donating more than 78 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to Pakistan and more than 70 million of them have already been delivered.

The US is the largest donor of coronavirus vaccines to Pakistan. It, through USAID, is supporting Pakistan’s Covid-19 paediatric vaccination campaign for 5 to 11 year-olds. The US ambassador said, “Today, we celebrate the next step in protecting all Pakistanis against this devastating disease by launching the paediatric vaccination campaign. Our recent collaboration to protect the children of Pakistan demonstrates the importance of our longstanding partnership to work together and overcome the global challenge.” Minister Patel praised the commitment of both countries to combat Covid-19 in Pakistan and said protecting communities from Covid-19 was a shared priority of both Pakistani and US governments.

"These vaccines will keep millions of children safe from the most devastating impacts of the pandemic,” he said. The minister thanked the US government for support to improve health services in Pakistan and said it reflected the strong bilateral relations. In addition to the vaccines, the US government has also provided over $80 million in direct and in-kind support to assist the Pakistani people in the fight against Covid-19. The support includes more than 1.2 million N95 masks, 96,000 surgical masks, 52,000 protective goggles, one million Covid-19 rapid diagnostic tests, 1,200 pulse oximeters, and 200 ventilators for 64 Pakistani hospitals – all of which have helped save lives and protect people across Pakistan.

The US government also trained over 50,000 health workers, including 30,000 women, across Pakistan on home-based care for Covid-19 patients and established a national network of disease surveillance and response units and teams – providing an infrastructure to combat the current pandemic and building resiliency for the future. In July, the US also provided four mobile testing labs to Pakistan’s NIH to strengthen the country's ability to diagnose diseases in remote, underserved areas.