The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has started the next phase of the vaccination drive against coronavirus with local level people’s representatives and government employees receiving the jabs from February 14 to February 20.

A meeting of the Incident Command System (ICS) held at the Ministry on Wednesday had decided to vaccinate employees of government offices, public institutions, banks, local level employees and people’s representatives in the district-level.

As the government decided to purchase 2 million doses of coronavirus vaccine ‘Covishield’ from India, MoHP has set various phases of vaccination campaigns.

According to the Head of Vaccination Branch at the Department of Health, Dr Jhalak Gautam, ward members will also be vaccinated in this phase. As per him, health workers, ambulance and hearse drivers, security personnel, health volunteers and journalists, who couldn’t get vaccinated earlier, will also be vaccinated.

The first phase of vaccination drive against COVID-19 was launched from January 27 to February 6 after the Government of India provided one million vaccines as grant.

The second phase of vaccination campaign was targeted for journalists and diplomatic staff, which lasted from February 8 to February 12.

The government has planned to vaccinate 300,000 people in the vaccination phase starting from February 14.

The second priority age group determined by MoHP is said to be vaccinated as soon as ‘COVAX’ vaccines arrive in Nepal.

The Ministry has decided to vaccinate government employees and people’s representatives amid criticism that elderly citizens and those chronically ill weren’t prioritized to be vaccinated.

During a press briefing of MoHP, Dr Gautam said the vaccines were safe and being used in India, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Maldives, Morocco, South Africa and Sri Lanka.

“The vaccines are safe. So far, no severe side-effects of vaccination is seen in Nepal. We are still in pandemic situation, the only way to be safe is to get vaccinated against it,” said Gautam.

Meanwhile, former vice-chancellors of Tribhuvan University have said that the government had neglected the senior citizens during vaccination campaign who are most at risk against COVID-19.

Former Vice-Chancellors Mahesh Kumar Upadhyay, Navin Jung Shah, Kedar Bhakta Mathema, Hira Bahadur Maharjan and Kamal Krishna Joshi have issued a statement in this regard.

Pointing out that social justice had been neglected in the priority list of vaccinations, they said the government’s ignorance was worrisome as a large number of teachers, students and staff at educational institutions are exposed to high risk every day as schools, colleges and universities are operating in the physical presence of teachers and students.