Younten Tshedup  

The nationwide vaccination drive is well on track to cover the entire eligible population with the first dose of Covishield vaccine with 97,322 people vaccinated on the second day.

According to the health ministry, by the end of the second day, 183,271 people were vaccinated covering 37.5 percent of the eligible population in the country.

The Prime Minister’s Office data, however, revealed that more than 186,000 people had received the vaccination by the end of the second day, yesterday. The country would require a daily coverage of about 76,000 people every day to cover the entire eligible population (533,558) over the seven-day duration.

No major adverse effects following immunisation (AEFI) were recorded on the second day except for a few minor adverse reactions including fever, headache, and nausea.

Dr GP Dhakal from the national immunisation technical advisory group (NI-TAG) said that as of yesterday, about 3,000 people reported having experienced some of these adverse reactions.

Most, 26 percent, reported having headaches followed by fever (21 percent), and some 13 percent reported experiencing nausea and vomiting.

Dr Dhakal said that these side effects were not restricted to Covid-19 vaccine and were common with any other vaccination. “The numbers are high because we are vaccinating a large number of people. This is common and there is nothing to fear.”

He said that the AEFI reports were not restrictive to the 30-minute mandatory observation period following the immunisation.   

“People can experience these adverse effects anywhere between 24 to 48 hours. Some may even have them for days which is why we will be monitoring for at least a month.”

The 30 minutes mandatory observation, he said was to see if anyone experienced anaphylactic reactions because these people had to be immediately treated on the spot by giving them an adrenaline injection to counter the reaction.

Dr Dhakal said that anyone experiencing the minor side effects could take a painkiller (paracetamol) and rest at home. “They should take plenty of fluid and have a good rest. But if you think the symptoms are major, you should contact the consulting doctors or dial 112 to avail the emergency services.”

  Elderly people also showed up in impressive numbers for the vaccination programme

Elderly people also showed up in impressive numbers for the vaccination programme

He added that the side effects were an indication of the vaccine working on the body. “But this doesn’t mean that for people who do not experience the side effects, the vaccine is not working. It mainly depends on the body’s immunity.”

Most of the people who received the vaccine on the first day said that they did not feel any side effects. The first jab recipient, Ninda Dema said that she was feeling ‘completely okay’ 30 minutes after the vaccination.

Ninda who has trypanophobia (fear of injection and needles), said that she didn’t even feel the needle go in. “I was too engrossed in my prayer that I didn’t even feel the needle. The cameras were more intimidating than the injection itself.”

Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji who excitedly took off his sleeve and sat on the chair on the first day was made to complete the pre-screening form first. “I was very excited then,” he said.

Lyonpo after receiving the vaccine said that it was like any other vaccine. “I can only say that today is a historic day and that we are moving closer to protecting our communities and keeping our people safe,” he said. “I hope everyone will come forward and not hesitate to take the vaccine. We have all taken the vaccine and we are feeling absolutely normal.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Dr Rui Paulo de Jesus who had completed 25 minutes at the observation room after the vaccination said; “I feel great. Except for a little pain on the injection site, I don’t feel anything.”

He said that he was thankful to the country for making Covid-19 vaccine available for all the eligible Bhutanese in the country including foreigners. “I would like to give full credit to the government for their ability to bring in enough doses to vaccinate all the eligible population in Bhutan. Also, I would like to convey my appreciation to the Indian government for making this possible.”

Meanwhile, for those who were still confused about the date and timing of vaccination, Dr Dhakal said that anyone can visit the nearest vaccination station with an identification document (ID cards) and receive the vaccine over the next five days.