Bhutan rolls out Covid-19 booster dose for priority groups

A booster dose is an additional shot of Covid-19 vaccine that helps an individual to maintain and lengthen oneโ€™s protection against the new variant of Covid-19, Omicron

Following recommendation from the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NI-TAG), the Ministry of Health (MoH) has started giving Covid-19 booster doses for priority groups.ย 

Priority groups include those who are 65 years and older, outbound travelers (18 years and above), health workers, all persons with chronic medical conditions (18 years and above), and all adults (18 years and above) residing in the high risk areas.

When the MoH announced making booster shots available for the priority groups on Thursday evening, Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo said, โ€œAs the new variant has reached our neighboring countries, it has become important for us to be prepared and extra cautious.โ€

Meanwhile, a booster dose is an additional shot of Covid-19 vaccine that helps an individual to maintain and lengthen oneโ€™s protection against the new variant of Covid-19, Omicron.

For the person over the age of 65, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had also recommended receiving booster dose at least six months after completing the primary Covid-19 immunization series. Boosters are also recommended for those over the age of 18 who have underlying medical issues or who live in high risk locations.

Additionally, all the individuals leaving the country would also be eligible for the booster dose.

Meanwhile, the new variant Omicron has been dubbed as the โ€˜most severelyโ€™ mutated version of the virus discovered so far, with the potential to be more transmissible than the Delta variant and most successful in avoiding the immune response offered by the vaccines.

For giving the Covid-19 booster dose for priority groups, the flu clinic in Thimphu as well as hospitals in other districts will be open for a week with five to seven vaccinators working simultaneously. In high risk areas, however, there will be special vaccine camps.

As the booster shots will be available only for a week, the health minister urges all the eligible people to acquire it.

According to the MoH, Bhutan would be the first country in the south East Asia region to provide the booster dose.

โ€œIn a situation like this, if you donโ€™t respond soon, thereโ€™s a chance that Bhutan will also be assigned the Omicron case,โ€ the minister added.

Talking about the booster doses, Lyonpo said, โ€œPeople will be able to choose between AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer and Sinopharm for their booster dose. We have sufficient supplies of the vaccines.โ€

Besides providing booster doses for the priority groups, the ministry is also exploring vaccinations for children between the ages of 5 to 11 years.

Meanwhile, the MoH has fully vaccinated 76.8% of the population including 93.2% of adults (18 years and above). A total of 92.8% of children aged 12-17 years have also received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu