The first round of mass vaccination in the country is over.

So what?

With people assuming that the vaccine shots can protect them from Covid-19 forever, we now seem to have a new challenge to deal with.

The problem is we aren’t up against the game.

Face masks are fast becoming a thing of the past. Hand washing stands, ubiquitous at one point of the pandemic’s height, are now few and far between, even in crowded places such as Norzin Lam in Thimphu. Crowding is growing visibly.

Why is this happening?

We find the answer in lack of education or awareness and irresponsibility. What we know, through research and on-going studies is that even the best vaccines leave five percent of vaccinated people susceptible. For some vaccines, that figure is even higher. We have a certain section of people that haven’t got the vaccine.

Receptiveness to the vaccine and turnout for the first round of vaccination programme was impressive, yes, but the threat of the pandemic doesn’t just disappear after the vaccine shots.

The gap is clear. There are those who know about the vaccine well and those who do not. Why is awareness and education lacking even so? 

Ministers coming on television to explain about the programme is good; it has some good effects. But sustained efforts to educate the public about their vulnerabilities is by far more important. That is missing and the consequences can be serious.

What is clearly showing in all these schemes of things is short-sightedness.

Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory that borders Spain at the point where North Africa and Europe form the gateway to the Mediterranean, has vaccinated most of its adult population. This has been in the news for some time now. But we have done better, save international limelight. There is a lesson to draw, through, from these two cheerful cases: the arrival of vaccine doesn’t mean we can open bars and entrainment centres as we used to before Covid-19.

There’s probably a little break, that’s why we call it a beak, not complete freedom. Bhutan cannot make this mistake, at any cost. What is needed is more awareness programmes. Imposition of measure such as hand-washing, distance-maintaining and face mask-wearing must be made mandatory all the more. 

And these efforts must come from the government, not least from the Ministry of Health.

The vaccine doesn’t give us any excuse to be lax with our health protocols. In fact, this is the time when we have to focus more on the preventive care and measures that have served us well and will for a long, long time to come.