The government is all set to administer the first shot of Vero Cell vaccines, recently provided by the government of China as grant assistance, to people between 60 and 64 years of age from Tuesday.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, all Nepalis falling in that age group will get the first dose of the vaccine.
The Health Ministry clarified that if one does not have a Nepali citizenship, they can bring along other documents issued by the government that clearly identifies their name, age and address. It added that if anyone does not have any such documents, they can visit their respective ward office and get a letter of recommendation for the vaccine.
Meanwhile, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City is establishing vaccination centres in all wards of the metropolis for the vaccination drive.
In mid-May, the Ministry of Health and Population had asked people outside of the Kathmandu Valley, who had earlier received first dose of the Vero Cell vaccine in the Valley, to contact their local level health coordinators for their second dose.
Hundreds of thousands of people had left Kathmandu ahead of the prohibitory orders imposed in the Valley on April 29. The prohibitory orders have been stretched to a month ever since.
People who left the Valley for their hometowns have been deprived of their second dose of the Vero Cell vaccines as the jabs were distributed only in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur in the last week of May.
Keeping in mind people’s concerns that outgoing vaccine recipients will be deprived of their second dose, the Ministry of Health and Population had issued a notice urging vaccine candidates to give their details to respective district health offices.
The Health Ministry, however, has not made any details or updates regarding the same ever since.
Nepal received 800,000 doses of Vero Cell vaccine provided by the Chinese government under grant assistance on June 1.
Similarly, the Government of Tibet Autonomous Region of China handed over grant assistance of 200,000 COVID-19 vaccines along with syringes to Nepali authorities at the Tribhuwan International Airport on June 1 and 2.
In March, China provided 800,000 doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine to Nepal, which also received a million shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine as gift from India.
Meanwhile, the government on Friday asked hospitals to reserve beds for children for fear another surge in coronavirus infections will hit them hard.
The move came as the government approved for emergency use the COVID-19 vaccine made by Sinovac Biotech of China.
Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s government has been criticised by experts for its handling of the ongoing second wave in Nepal, which has led to an acute shortage of oxygen, hospital beds and medicines.
“Hospitals and medical institutions must set aside at least 20% of beds for children, who are likely to suffer the most in the potential third and fourth waves of coronavirus,” the Ministry of Health and Population said in a statement.
“Hospitals must also ensure the availability of enough oxygen.”
Daily infections in Nepal are hovering around 3,000-4,000 after hitting a peak of more than 9,000 in early May.
Nepal had reported fewer than 100 daily cases in March.
International donors have rushed aid including oxygen, protective gear, drugs and face masks to Nepal, which is also struggling to secure vaccines after neighbouring India stopped exports to meet its local demand.
Santosh K.C., a spokesman for the Department of Drug Administration, said “conditional permission for the emergency use” had been given for the coronavirus vaccine (Corona Vac) made by Sinovac Biotech of China, the fifth shot to be approved by Nepal.
Earlier it had approved two Indian-made vaccines – AstraZeneca’s and COVAXIN – China’s Shinopharm and Russia’s Sputnik V for emergency use in Nepal.
So far, at least 3.1 million people have been administered anti-COVID vaccines in Nepal.