Children below 17 years must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity    

Younten Tshedup  

The week-long campaign for the second round of Covid-19 vaccination fell short by almost 20 percent to achieve the desired herd immunity.

The target was to cover 80 percent of the entire population in the country.

As per the National Statistics Bureaus’ projected population for 2021, the total population in the country is 756,129. This means that more than 604,900 must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

According to the health ministry, 454,186 people were vaccinated at the end of the week-long campaign that ended yesterday.

As per the preliminary data as of 5pm yesterday, the coverage during the seven-day campaign was more than 60 percent of the entire population.

However, there are more than 222,000 people, or 29.4 percent of the total population who are below the age of 18 years. What this means is that without vaccinating children below the age of 18 years, the country would not achieve the required 80 percent coverage.

For this, the ministry has started vaccinating children between 12 and 17 years with Pfizer in Phuentsholing and Samtse. However, the country has access to only 5,850 doses of the Pfizer vaccine today.

About 200,000 dose of Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive towards the end of the year.

With the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recently approving the use of the Moderna vaccine for children aged 12 to 17 years, health officials said that the remaining dose of Moderna vaccine in the country could be used in children.

In the meantime, considering only the eligible population or those above the age of 18 years, which stood at more than 533,000 people (preliminary data), 85 plus percent has received the second dose of Covid-19 vaccines as of yesterday.

Records with the health ministry show that 502,015 people (66.4 percent of the total population) received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine as of 5pm yesterday and 446,642 had received their booster dose in a homologous or heterologous regime.

Of the eligible population, about 97 percent or 483,461 people were vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine. More than 438,005 (about 88 percent) received their second dose at the end of the week-long vaccination campaign.

As of last night, more than 422,000 people received the Moderna vaccine as their second dose in a heterologous regime — 24,000 plus individuals opted for AstraZeneca as their second dose.

Two individuals took the Sinopharm vaccine as the first and second dose. Five people, however, were given Sinopharm vaccine as their second dose to their AstraZeneca (first dose), which the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (NI-TAG) had not recommended.

While the week-long vaccination campaign has concluded, the health ministry is continuing with the home-based vaccination service for those with mobility issues until July 31.

The rest of the population who could not avail of the vaccination service in the last seven days can get the vaccine from the nearest health facilities after July 31.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk