The wait is over. Exactly 115 days or 16.4 weeks after the first dose, Bhutan is ready to vaccinate the entire eligible population with the second dose. The vaccines are dispatched, vaccination centres readied and the people informed about the time and places.
It has been quite a long wait. The plan was to start the second dose within 8 to 12 weeks after the first in March. However, situations that were out of our hands delayed the second dose. Fortunately, science convinced us that 16 weeks is not too late. Now that we have everything ready, the people should play their part.
We all should go out and get vaccinated, if not encourage others and help people get protected against the coronavirus, which is not seeing its end. Vaccination, as of now, is the only hope and the solution. Led by the Prime Minister, about 600 volunteers got their second dose, a mix of vaccines yesterday. The volunteers received the Moderna vaccine. All of them received AstraZeneca for the first dose.
With some disturbed by recent news about the risk of mixing vaccines, the Prime Minister took the Moderna vaccine to encourage people and convince doubters that it is safe to mix vaccines. As of yesterday, except for minor irritants, no one complained of severe side effects. Many are using social media to share their experience and encourage people to come out and get the vaccine.
The Prime Minister who supports mix-and-match vaccines led by example as the nation rolls out the campaign tomorrow. We could surmise that every Bhutanese eligible would be waiting for the vaccine. Having witnessed how Covid-19, especially the Delta variant, caused havoc in the region as recently as last month, many should be convinced how vaccines could protect the people from the disease. If it didn’t prevent people from getting infected, it significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization or succumbing to it. This is proven scientifically. Countries that have rolled out the second dose are lifting all restrictions. On the other hand, many governments are struggling or getting blamed for failing to procure vaccines to protect its people.
We have vaccines, for that matter, choice of vaccines. And we have seen how vulnerable we are without the vaccine. We lost an octogenarian last week who had not received the first dose. We are seeing an increasing number of cases even with a lot of restrictions put in place. The only hope is vaccination and if we can achieve herd immunity, we will be safer.
As we wait to roll up our sleeves, there are some who are disturbed by recent news on the risk of mixing vaccines. To reiterate, mixing and matching vaccines against Covid-19 is not new. Many countries, including those with stricter health standards, have done it. As a rumour-mongering society, people could be disturbed when rumours spread. There is more evidence of how getting vaccinated or mixing vaccines can protect a population from Covid-19 than people dying because of the vaccines. The Prime Minister who is from the medical field chose to be the first to receive a different vaccine for his second dose. This should encourage the doubters.
A rumour spreading lately is that if people choose not to get vaccinated, they would be made to pay for quarantine or medical treatment. This rumour, perhaps, is worth spreading as we prepare to roll out the much-awaited second dose and protect the population.