Ninda Dema at Dechenphu Lhakhang in Thimphu yesterday

Getting vaccinated is everyone’s responsibility, says Ninda Dema 

Younten Tshedup

Tayatha Om Bekandze Bekandze Maha Bekandze Randza Samu Gate Soha…

“Let my action here today bring peace to all sentient beings. Let my deed today help materialise our Monarch, Je Khenpo, and the governments’ prayers. And let this small step of mine today help us all prevail through this illness.” 

This is the prayer Ninda Dema, the country’s first Covid-19 vaccine recipient will make as she receives the jab on March 27.

The intellectual property officer with the economic affairs ministry, Ninda Dema, never imagined she would be the ‘chosen one’ when Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering announced that the country’s first vaccine recipient would be 30-year-old woman, last week. 

During a regular family gathering last weekend, the 30-year-old woman was the topic of discussion at her home in Shaba, Paro. “We were all curious as to who would be the woman,” said Ninda. “I said I fit the category too, and it would be a privilege to be the first person to get the vaccine.”

Ninda Dema

She shared her impromptu prayer with the family and her mother immediately folded her hands and said that she should be the one to receive the first jab. “She said that the prayer and my name all aligned perfectly for the occasion and that I should be the one to receive the vaccine first.”

Ninda’s brother who works with the foreign minister was leaving to collect the additional doses vaccine the next day. “He might have shared our conversation with the minister because the next day he sent me a message saying that I might be the first person to get the vaccine.”

 On March 23, the confirmation was made. It was official. In accordance with the Buddhist astrology, Ninda Dema, born in the year of the Monkey (1992) would be the country’s first person to receive the Covid-19 jab. “My desire to be the first person to receive the vaccine came true.”

Ninda, who is currently on deputation with the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu (DGRK) office said that in one of the Audiences, His Majesty The King spoke on the importance of Tendrel (auspicious beginning). 

“Everything seemed to have aligned together. As I was turning my car after sharing the news with my sister, a man walked out of her (sister’s) office with a bottle of milk. That was a very auspicious sign,” she said. “Because of all these incidences, I was happy and confident that everything would go well.”    

Ninda, the name which roughly translates to sun and moon could spread the rays of hope as the government encourages the people to get vaccinated and become the first nation to vaccinate all the eligible population against Covid-19.


Why get vaccinated?

 Ninda Dema said that given an opportunity, there would be many who would want to be the first. “I was lucky. But even if I wasn’t the first person, I would have taken the vaccine anyway,” she said. 

The primary reason for getting the jab was to protect herself, she said. “Secondly, it was to prevent the virus from spreading to others. If I don’t take the vaccine and happen to be the reason for spreading the disease, I would be the guiltiest person.” 

In the wake of numerous news headlines concerning the vaccine safety, she said that despite some of them being ‘quite intimidating’, scientifically there were no links established, especially between the blood clots and the vaccine.    

“People just read the headlines and take decisions. I think they should delve deeper and read the entire news and comprehend the information provided,” she said. “After reading several news articles, what I know is that the vaccines’ benefits outweigh its risks.”

 She said that the other important reason as to why she was getting the vaccine was His Majesty The King’s leadership in the fight against the pandemic. “I have blind faith in my King and this reason alone gives me the confidence to take the vaccine.” 

With His Majesty The King at the helm of the entire containment efforts, and the measures put in place by the government, Ninda said that Bhutan has successfully contained the disease for now. 

However, it was not over yet. “Everyone has a part to play in the fight against the pandemic. At individual level, getting the vaccine is that part,” she said. “Many might think that it won’t make any difference if he or she doesn’t get the vaccine. People must understand that this assumption of theirs could cost others. For the vaccine to work effectively, every individual must get vaccinated. This is everyone’s responsibility.”

She said that despite having trypanophobia (fear of injection and needles), she decided to take the vaccine. “This is my contribution in this fight.” 

Meanwhile, as a personal preparation, Ninda visited Dechenphu and Changangkha Lhakhangs in Thimphu yesterday to receive blessings before the big day.  

Her mother visited eight lhakhangs in Paro, before noon yesterday.

 Ninda Dema will receive the first dose of Covishield vaccine on Saturday at 9:30am in Thimphu. “I am excited and I feel very special. I just pray that everything goes well on the day,” she said. “I would visualise the person who would inject me as the Medicine Buddha and chant the Sangay Menlha prayer.”