They came in droves, they got the booster dose and they shared their experience. The nationwide second round of vaccination against the deadly coronavirus is picking up. Despite some hesitancy and a few trying to discourage people from getting the available vaccines, people believed in protecting themselves and thereby the community and the country.

Nearly a hundred thousand people received the vaccine when the vaccination centres called it a day yesterday. Getting the second dose or the immunity booster dose is seen as the best protection against the virus. It may not fully protect people from contracting the virus, but it is the only option available as of now. The vaccination programme is for a week, we have enough doses for the entire eligible population and by the end of the week, we should have inoculated a good number of the population.

Herd immunity, proven by science and advocated by scientists and governments worldwide, is the best long-term solution. Many governments are not able to arrange vaccines. Forget the second dose, many have not received the first leaving them vulnerable to the virus, which now is spreading in the form of a more infectious Delta variant. The epicenter is still in our region. Inoculating the population is seen as the only available option.  

Not many have the means.

The government has managed to not only secure enough to protect its eligible population. For many it is the first dose and we are already planning to inoculate those below 18. Even as we roll out the second dose for almost 90 percent of the population, cases are surging all over the world. In the US, which generously gave Bhutan 500,000 doses of Moderna vaccine, rising cases are suddenly sparking fears of a resurgent pandemic. The President is pleading with the people to get vaccinated.

The vaccine can not only protect the health of the populace. The recovery of the economy hinges on bringing the pandemic under control. At home, we have lost only two to Covid-19 related complications, but there are thousands of Bhutanese who are indirectly affected by the pandemic. 

Even as we line up for the second dose, the government’s coffer is nearly empty. The monetary and fiscal policies initiated by His Majesty The King is draining out the royal coffer too.  Shares held in the name of Sungchob and Kidu funds are offered for sale to replenish the reserves for the National Resilience Fund so that the Druk Gyalpo’s Kidu could continue to help the needy.

If we can protect ourselves, we can also help ease the pressure on the Royal Kidu initiatives and the government. The choice is in our hands. We have the vaccines, there is a vaccination programme and everybody is encouraging each other to go out and get vaccinated. We are in a far better position than many around the world. For once, the beauty of our smallness can come to use if we can inoculate all the eligible people and achieve herd immunity.