Massive’ two-week Covid-19 home vaccination campaign to start from today: Asad Umar

Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar on Tuesday announced the start of a two-week-long home vaccination campaign that aims to administer over 35 million coronavirus vaccine shots as the fifth wave of the pandemic continues across the country.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan, Umar said: “The NCOC (National Command and Operation Centre) has prepared for a massive campaign which is about to start in all areas of the country. Over 55,000 mobile teams will go and carry out vaccinations at homes,” he said, adding that the campaign’s first phase would start from today and run for two weeks.

A target has been set to administer more than 35m vaccine doses, he said, acknowledging that it was a “huge target” but necessary preparations have been carried out such as training of the mobile teams and ensuring vaccine supplies.

Explaining the reasons behind the campaign, Umar, who also heads the NCOC, said it was found that areas with higher vaccination rates were more protected from the dangerous effects of Covid-19, with vaccinated people showing mild symptoms.

Providing updates on the country’s vaccination progress so far, Umar said around 80m people were completely vaccinated and over 10m people had received one dose. He added that more and more people were also readily getting booster doses and urged people to either get their second dose or a booster dose if eligible.

SAPM Sultan also said that initially the government had said people could get a booster shot but now it was a definite recommendation due to the available scientific evidence. He stressed that vaccination was the only way to escape the restrictions of the last two years and protect one’s health from serious Covid complications.

The SAPM urged people to cooperate with the mobile vaccination teams and welcome them.

Meanwhile, Sindh Minister for Health Dr Azra Pechuho shared details of the vaccination campaign in the province. Sharing a video of the minister on Twitter, the provincial health department said the purpose behind the campaign was to “reach remote regions as well as to help those who cannot access vaccination facilities otherwise”.

“If you cooperate with us then we will get liberated from the Covid pandemic because even now unvaccinated people are being admitted in hospitals and their health worsens,” Pechuho said.

The announcements come amid a period of sustained elevated daily Covid counts. Pakistan reported more than 7,000 cases of Covid-19 for the fifth consecutive day on Monday while the national positivity rate averaged 11.53 percent.

Pakistan also recorded its highest-ever Covid cases in 24 hours — 8,183 — on January 29. In comparison, the first year of the Covid-19 outbreak in Pakistan had seen the highest number at 6,825 people infected with the virus in a single day on June 13, 2020.

According to a document available with Dawn, the positivity rate was recorded at over 10pc in 12 cities — Karachi, Hyderabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Bahawalpur, Mirpur, Peshawar, Nowshera, Mardan, Islamabad, Quetta, and Muzaffarabad.

The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), a representative body of the medical fraternity, expressed concern over the consistently high positivity ratio of Covid-19 across the country.

The medical association also requested the government to strictly implement the SOPs across the country. “We also request the public to adopt preventive measures, wear masks whenever you go out, keep social distance, wash or sanitize your hands with proper intervals, avoid shaking hands and hugging and avoid going out unnecessarily,” it said.