Younten Tshedup  

Much to the relief of those residing in Phuentsholing — the current hotspot of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country — the second round of mass vaccination campaign began from yesterday.

More than 2,000 people in Phuentsholing have received their second dose as of yesterday.

As the second nationwide vaccination campaign rolled out from July 20, many Phuentsholing residents remained concerned as to whether they would receive their vaccines on time.

According to sources, the initial plan was to conduct a mass testing in Phuentsholing before vaccinating the people there.

The bordering town of Phuentsholing is currently under a complete lockdown since July 9. The two-week lockdown will end today.   Phuentsholing entered its third lockdown on April 17 this year, and since then the lockdown has not been completely lifted.

The technical advisory group (TAG), after consultation with the relevant stakeholders, decided to start the vaccination programme from July 21.

Dr Sonam Wangchuk of the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (NI-TAG) said that given the risk in Phuentsholing it was decided that all Phuentsholing residents would also be vaccinated along with the rest of the country.

The vaccination started from Mega Zone III yesterday as no positive case was detected from this area for the last two months.

The zone covers Pasakha and Pekarzhing areas.

A slightly risker area, Dr Sonam Wangchuk said, was Mega Zone I that included the Amochhu, Damdara and Kabreytar, and Core II areas. “Every now and then there are positive cases detected from these areas, which is why we will have to first test the people there before rolling out the vaccines.”

A representative mass testing will be conducted between July 22 and 23 in the mega zone where one individual from each household will be tested.

Vaccination in Mega Zone I will start from July 24 until July 26.

The most volatile of the mega zones has been Mega Zone II that include Core I, III, and IV.

“We have been recording positive cases from this zone despite the lockdown,” said Dr Sonam Wangchuk.

Another representative mass testing will be conducted between July 24 and 25 in the Core I and Rinchending areas taking one person from each household.

A mass sweeping would be conducted in Core III and Core IV areas during the same time.

Vaccination in Mega Zone II would be conducted between July 27 and 30.

To ensure smooth testing and achieve maximum vaccination coverage, the respective mega zones will remain under complete lockdown during the mass testing and vaccination period. Import and export will also be not allowed during the period.

Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that vaccination in Phuentsholing would not follow the regular station-based immunisation strategy. “It would be conducted in a cluster-based or colony-based manner in order to avoid gatherings and minimise contact between people during the vaccination.”

Meanwhile, at the end of the second day, 194,588 people were vaccinated with the second dose of Covid-19 vaccines.

Day two of the campaign saw 95,232 new recipients of the vaccine. Health officials said that majority of the recipients on the second day took Moderna vaccine in a heterologous regime.

About 450 new AEFI (adverse events following immunisation), including headache, fever, and tenderness at the site of injection were reported.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk