About 20,000 children yet to receive first dose of Covid-19 vaccine

The second dose of Covid-19 vaccine for children will be rolled out from the second week of September, says Health Minister

Around 59,000 children between 12 to 17 years accounting to 78.6% of the eligible children population have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. 

The information was shared by Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo during the virtual press-meet session on 27 August 2021.

The minister said about 20,000 children are yet to receive the first dose of the vaccine, adding that there are 1,000 plus Pfizer doses and about 10,000 plus Moderna doses in stock.

The health ministry started the first dose of Covid-19 vaccination for children between 12 to 17 years with Pfizer vaccine in Phuentsholing and Samtse on July 22 and approximately 5,000 doses had been inoculated. 

Further, after the Moderna vaccine had been approved by the Drug Regularity Authority of Bhutan, children between 12 to 17 years received the first dose from July 29 in 13 Dzongkhags. 

Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said as per the National Immunisation Technical Advisory Group’s recommendations, the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is due in the third week of September this year.

The minister added that the government is simultaneously working to procure both the vaccines for second doses as well as for eligible population of around 20,000 who have received Moderna as the first dose.

“We have a fairly good confirmation right now on those vaccines and the roll out would technically start by second week of September,” Lyonpo said.

Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering added that the problem in procuring vaccines was because most of the countries across the world have not even achieved 10% of the vaccination, while Bhutan has achieved around 80% to 90%.

Lyonchhen said the countries producing vaccines are giving importance to supply the vaccines to those countries with lesser vaccination coverage. 

In an earlier interview, Lyonchhen said the government plans to vaccinate 85% of the children between 12 to 17 years to achieve herd immunity. “We need to vaccinate 75% to 80% of the total population and with 60,000 children vaccinating, we could achieve about 76% to 77% of the vaccinated population.”

However, the PM said children must receive the second dose of the vaccine to achieve herd immunity, adding that the second dose of Moderna vaccine is recommended after four weeks but can go up to eight weeks.

Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu