Thursday Jan 07, 2021
LAHORE/PESHAWAR: The provincial governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have devised strategy for the anti-coronavirus vaccine distribution.
The Punjab government has prepared a three-stage plan to vaccinate its over 110 million population against the coronavirus, said health officials.
As Pakistan is set to procure doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine in the first quarter of this year, Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, aims to vaccinate its residents in three phases.
The most vulnerable or high-risk individuals will be given the vaccine jab in the first stage, Captain retired Muhammad Usman, secretary Punjab’s primary and secondary healthcare department told a press briefing on Thursday.
Those first in line to be vaccinated will include healthcare workers, who interact directly with coronavirus patients and people over 65 years of age.
In the second stage, medics and professionals, who do not come in direct contact with the COVID-19 infected will be administered the vaccine, as well as people over 60 years of age.
Finally, in the last stage, the vaccination drive will be open to the rest of the province, the secretary added.
With the help of the National Database and Registration Authority, the health officials have identified 0.5 million healthcare workers in Pakistan dealing with coronavirus patients, Captain (r) Usman explained. Upwards to 9.5 million people are over the age of 65 years and 16.8 million are over 60 years in the country. Both will be in the list of priority groups.
While talking about the use of rapid antigen testing in the province, Nabeel Ahmad Awan, secretary of the specialised healthcare and medical education department, told reporters that Punjab has decided against utilising the rapid testing kits for now.
“The price of a PCR test is cheaper these days than that of an antigen test,” he added, “Plus the antigen test is not as reliable as PCR.” An antigen test kits costs between Rs. 1,200 to 1,600 each while a PCR test costs around Rs. 700, Awan said.
The secretary also said that till now, the UK virus mutant strain has not been detected in Punjab.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has devised a plan for the procurement and distribution of the anti-coronavirus vaccine.
Under this programme, a provincial vaccine administration and coordination cell (PVACC) has been established which will be led by the KP health secretary.
According to the document issued by the KP government, district vaccine administration and coordination cells have also been established across all 35 districts including the tribal areas. These will be led by the additional deputy commissioners (ADCs).
The provincial government has identified 280 health facilities and formed a health vaccine administration cell (HFVAC) across the province including the merged districts where the vaccine will be administered to frontline health works in the first phase.
On January 4, the provincial and district master trainers were trained on vaccine administration and data flow while cascade trainings are underway.
The cold chain assessment has been completed and the supply chain management mechanism would be developed after "clarity from the federal government".
The provincial government has also developed adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) strategy.