Nima Wangdi 

Almost 50 percent of the children have been vaccinated by the second day of mass pediatric vaccination campaign for children in the ages of five-11 yesterday.

A total of 23,193 children in the country were vaccinated yesterday taking the total number of children vaccinated so far to 39,642 of the 83,226 children in this age group in the country.

Thimphu has maximum number of children vaccinated yesterday with 3,872, followed by Sarpang with 2,112. Gasa has the lowest with only 39 according to the health ministry’s data.

A total of 16,449 children were vaccinated on the first day of the campaign. The second dose will be rolled out starting the first week of April according to the health ministry officials.

According to the health ministry, there were no cases of Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) yesterday except for 28 minor cases who complained about injection site pain, mild fever and headache.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering urged the people to come forward for the vaccine on the first day of the campaign.

Lyonchhen said that this was a significant milestone as the children aged 5-11 would finally be protected from the disease that the country has been fighting for over the years.    “The vaccine coverage of our children will add confidence to the ongoing Covid-19 management.”

The health ministry also stated that although initial variants of Covid-19 were said not to be severe on children, there was mounting evidence that the Omicron variant causes severe illness in children making it important to get them vaccinated.

The ministry stated that securing adequate doses of pediatric Covid-19 vaccines to safeguard children has always been the key national priority. “The vaccines have been procured.”

Around 180,000 doses of Pfizer pediatric vaccine for children aged five to 11 and 90,090 doses of Pfizer for adults arrived in the country on March 2 this year.

Children aged 13 and above have received the second dose while 18 and above have received even booster doses.

Head of the Royal Centre for Disease Control and the member of the national immunization technical advisory group, Dr Sonam Wangchuk said the vaccine for the children aged five-11 is different from the one given to those 12 and above. “Children who are 12 years and above should get the previous vaccine.”

The dosage for this section of the population is 0.2ml according to the experts. The campaign that started on March 6 will be held for one week.