Phub Dem

The health ministry will roll out booster dose for the general population starting January 24.

The country received 150,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine yesterday.

In the last two weeks, Bhutan recorded 226 new cases of Covid-19.

According to Health Minister Dechen Wangmo, the unvaccinated population, including children between five and 11 years, remains at risk, as the Omicron variant is highly transmissible.

She said the ministry was in discussion with paediatric doses companies and would be finalising the contractual agreement soon. “The ministry hopes to roll out the vaccine within two months.”

Lyonpo said that access to the vaccine was a challenge and the ministry was trying its best to secure the vaccine at the earliest, adding that people must avoid the crowd and follow protocol to protect the unvaccinated children. “I have observed people walking around without masks and avoiding health protocols.”

As of yesterday, 74 percent of the eligible population (above 12 years) received both vaccination doses and 98.8 percent of the priority group received booster doses; 19.7 percent of the population are unvaccinated.

Lyonpo said that Omicron was highly infectious and the booster doses were proven to provide higher protection against it. She said that the ministry completed the booster vaccination for priority groups that include 18 years and above residing in high-risk areas; those above 65 years; people above 18 and living with chronic medical conditions; health workers; and outbound travellers.

The remaining booster doses covered Samtse, Samdrupjongkhar, Chukha, and Sarpang.

According to sources, the health ministry plans to procure 180,000 doses of Pfizer paediatric doses to vaccinate about 83,000 children. The vaccine will cost around Nu 99 million.

National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (NI-TAG) member, Dr Sonam Wangchuk, said that preventing the transmission was the priority for Bhutan.

He said children remained highly susceptible to the infection as they were not vaccinated and are likely to be symptomatic. “It is recommended to vaccinate the children before the school reopens.”

Phuentsholing reported a case from the flu clinic yesterday evening.