Second dose for children to begin from September 14  

Younten Tshedup 

By early next month, Bhutan would have achieved herd immunity as more than 80 percent of the total population would have been fully vaccinated.

This would be possible following the complete immunisation (two doses) of some 60,000 children between the age of 12 and 17 years, which begins next week.

The health ministry will roll out the second round of vaccination for children in this age group between September 14 and 18. Simultaneously, the first dose of vaccine for children in this age group in the seven remaining dzongkhags would also begin.

A member of the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (NI-TAG), Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that with the arrival of 198,900 doses of Pfizer vaccine recently, the health ministry plans to fully vaccinate more than 59,700 children (12 to 17 years) in 13 dzongkhags and some 16,000 children in the remaining seven dzongkhags.

“Once we complete the vaccination programme, the overall vaccine coverage would be more than 80 percent,” he said, adding that the remaining 16,000 children would receive their second dose by the end of October.

Besides the 4,500 plus children in Phuentsholing and Samtse, who received the Pfizer vaccine in July, most of the eligible children have received the Moderna vaccine. However, this time, all eligible children will receive the Pfizer vaccine.

“Interchangeability between Pfizer and Moderna vaccine is recommended. People should not confuse this as mix-and-match because both the vaccines are mRNA type, manufactured by two different companies,” said Dr Sonam Wangchuk.

He said that vaccination for children would be conducted at the respective schools across all the dzongkhags.

Despite the holidays in Thimphu, Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that the coverage should not be hampered as most of the students would be vaccinated before the holidays — between September 14 and 15. “Should there be any additional students who had not received the vaccine then, we can continue after the holidays.”

The government spent over Nu 101.377 million to procure 198,900 doses of Pfizer vaccine earlier this week.

Edited by Tshering Palden