With an aim to inoculate Hajj pilgrims and students proceeding for education abroad first, the government has decided to prioritize giving the Pfizer vaccine to those who have a work visa, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said Thursday.
The federal minister said that the government is working hard to expedite the vaccination process across the country so that restrictions are lifted and businesses are resumed.
He also said that the vaccine acceptability issue is global and urged other nations to address it.
On a question regarding the Pfizer vaccine received under the COVAX facility, the minister said that Pakistan received a limited quantity of the vaccine this month due to which the government has decided to give the vaccine to those who are going abroad where it is mandatory.
Umar said Chinese vaccines are exported the most and highlighted that acceptability towards vaccines is creating problems worldwide.
He said that the government is launching a mass vaccination campaign for which they have planned to establish 4,000 vaccination centers across the country.
The first shipment of 106,000 doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 mRNA vaccine has already arrived through COVAX, while authorities are also planning to procure ‘one to two million doses’ of mRNA vaccine directly from the manufacturer through the National Disaster Management Authority.
Officials at the National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination (NHS R&C) said that since they have received a limited supply of Pfizer’s vaccine so far, it would only be used to inoculate “those with compromised immunity, transplant patients, pregnant ladies, children of 12 years and above in need of vaccination” and those recommended by the committee of experts.
In addition to that, Pfizer’s vaccine can be used for inoculation of Hajis (pilgrims) of less than 40 years of age as they can’t be inoculated with AstraZeneca’s vaccine at the moment, the official said, adding that strict monitoring of the vaccine would be carried out to prevent its misuse.
“Some big guns have already started approaching us to vaccinate them and their families with Pfizer’s vaccine but they are being refused as this is only meant for people with compromised immunity,” the official said and added that NCOC will distribute the vaccine to the provinces under strict instructions to prevent its misuse.
“We are worried about the misuse of the mRNA vaccine in Punjab and Sindh as they have done some irregularities, so a foolproof system of monitoring and tracking all the doses of mRNA vaccine is being devised.”The official added.