Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

As Omicron cases increase in India, people in Phuentsholing, Bhutan’s most vulnerable town, are busy getting their booster doses.

The third vaccination round, which started on December 24, saw a total of 18,223 people come for their injecting by December 28.

According to the Southern Covid-19 Daily Booster Dose Vaccination Report, this means 76 percent coverage.

Phuentsholing has a target of vaccinating 24,047 people with the booster dose by the end of this month.

A Phuentsholing resident, Biswadeep Chhetri, said he would take another booster if the government is planning it in the future.

“We are fortunate to receive the booster,” he said. “People from many countries across the globe are still looking for a second or even the first dose of vaccine.”

A corporate employee, Tshewang Dema, said she got the booster so that her immune system stays strong in 2022 against the Covid-19 virus.

She said she didn’t hesitate about getting the booster.

“We have been through hell during the prolonged lockdown,” she said. “So I am getting prepared for imminent risks. I have to take care of my grandmother. I have to be strong.”

Another said he chose to take the booster to protect himself. “And in doing so, I protect my fellow citizens.”

Meanwhile, it has been 136 days now since Phuentsholing last saw any Covid-19 transmission from the community after the longest lockdown of about four months was relaxed on August 10 this year.

On December 26, a total of 807 samples were collected from various places in Phuentsholing, and all tested negative. A total of 132 samples were also collected from Samtse and all have tested negative.

As the booster drive is going on, sensitisation and advocacy about the Covid-19 safety protocols for shopkeepers and restaurant owners will also be conducted today.

Prior to this, a mass public sensitisation programme was conducted on December 8 to residents on Covid-19 safety measures, issues and challenges faced during the pandemic, and ideas for further intervention to maintain zero community cases. An individual each from a household was asked to attend the programme.

The booster dose drive is also in full swing in Samtse, Sarpang, and Lhamoizingkha.

As of December 28, Samtse gave booster doses to 29,969 people. Considering a total target of 41,440 people, this is 72 percent coverage. 

Sarpang and Lhamoizingkha recorded 76 and 74 percent respectively up to December 28.