Nima Wangdi 

A total of 16,449 children have been vaccinated on the first day of the pediatric vaccine rollout campaign for the children aged five to 11 in the country yesterday.

Samtse vaccinated the maximum number of children.

It vaccinated 1,835 children and Paro vaccinated 1,797.

A five-year-old girl, born in the rooster year took the inaugural paediatric dose at Jigme Namgyal Lower Secondary School in Thimphu at 10am.

The astrologers, in the way it was done for the previous vaccine rollout events, identified the day, time and the person to start the vaccination.

There are 83,227 children in that age group and everyone is urged to come forward for the vaccine.

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

He said that more than 65,718 children have registered for the vaccine as of yesterday.

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. “Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in January 2020, health and wellbeing of our children has always been His Majesty the King’s concern.”

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

The nationwide rollout also preceded with Sangay Menlha Drubchen (Medicine Buddha ritual) at Semtokha dzong yesterday. Lhabsang Thuresoel (Cleansing ritual) was also performed at the Paro international airport on the arrival of vaccines on March 2. Around 180,000 doses of Pfizer paediatric vaccine for children aged five to 11 and 90,090 doses of Pfizer for adults arrived in the country.   

“To complement the protection of the vaccines, more rituals will be performed across the country,” the health ministry stated.

Vaccine-preventable disease programme’s senior programme officer, Sangay Phuntsho, said the campaign would be held for a week. “It will also continue thereafter to cover those who could not cover during this campaign.”

He said Bhutan has enough doses of vaccine for both first and second doses for the children. “The second dose rollout will start from the first week of April.”

Head of the Royal Centre for Disease Control and the member of the national immunization technical advisory group, Dr Sonam Wangchuk said children aged 13 and above have received the second dose while 18 and above have received even booster doses. “In three to four weeks, children aged five-11 will also receive the second dose.”

He 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.”


Seventh death with Covid-19

An 83-year-old man with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and a probable stroke patient died on the evening of March 5 at the isolation facility at the Royal Institute of Governance and Strategic Studies in Phuentsholing.

The deceased was bedridden for more than one year.

He tested positive for the virus on February 18 this year. He was unvaccinated.

It is the first death with Covid-19 for this year and the seventh since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic since 2020.