Coronavirus Disease is most probably a substantial threat in the current world because of the extensive mortality rate. COVID-19 is a new virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some common cold types. The deathly disease caused by the novel Coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, China. After that, the spread of the virus took place throughout the world within a short time.
Developing a safe and effective vaccine is usually a lengthy process. Still, with the unprecedented investment in research and development and global cooperation, scientists have developed a vaccine against COVID-19 in record time. The COVID -19 vaccine's breakthrough is a tremendous victory for doctors, scientists, and thousands of volunteers. It is a collective endeavor that is made possible through a combined fight across the world. However, rigorous challenges have been arising in the aspect of making these efforts effective.
In Bangladesh, countrywide COVID-19 vaccination rolled out in the first week of this month. Since then, the Mass inoculation program is running successfully across the country. The vaccination process requires two doses, the first shot is giving now, and the second shot will be given eight weeks after the first shot.
Bangladesh purchased three crore doses of Oxford - AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of Indian (SII), from which 50 lakh doses arrived in Dhaka. Besides, the country received 20 lakhs dozes of the vaccine from India's government as a gift. Our government has targeted vaccinating 6 million people in the first month and another 5 million people next month.
There are several challenges also growing with the immunization program. First, the negative perception of mass people taking vaccines is a crucial obstacle to implementing the campaign properly. In the beginning, people's perception was like they want to suffer or even die rather than taking vaccines. Reports and misinformation on severe side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine in the international media are some of the main reasons to make people scared about taking the vaccine. However, the situation is improving day by day. We have witnessed an enormous pressure of registration for getting the vaccine from the last couple of days; hence, govt has postponed the registration.
When some ministers and government officials have taken the vaccine, and others are instructed to complete their registration, the primary confusion and hesitation have gone from the people's minds. Moreover, the COVID -19 immunization trend illustrates the increasing interest in getting vaccinated and overcoming the initial fears surrounding the vaccines. Now people are showing more eagerness to take the vaccines. Thousands of people across the country rushed to register themselves to get vaccinated. Recent studies have shown that around 64% of people want to take the COVID vaccine, and it can be presumed that the percentage will increase in the future.
Another aspect is the infrastructural capacities of administration regarding the implementation of the inoculation campaign. Although our country consists of a small territory, it still hard to reach all the people in such a vast populated nation. Besides, this vaccine requires a special preservation system during maintenance and transportation.
Close supervision after giving shots is also necessary to speculate the vaccines' side effects as we know that the vaccines have temporary and unpleasant but not dangerous side effects. For instance, mild fever, fatigue, and aches can be felt, but these are not bad signs; instead, that means the recipient's immune system is vigorously responding to the vaccine. However, sometimes new vaccines take a long time to react; hence it is necessary to maintain supervision to the recipients to avoid any adverse consequences.
The mutation is the fundamental nature of viruses, and Coronavirus is not different. The virus is continuously changing its character as a new strain has evolved recently. Now, the question is whether the vaccine is effective against the new strain. According to scientists and researchers, since the vaccines have been developed targeting the spike proteins that have changed in the new strain, they might turn out to be less effective.
Furthermore, the increasing number of people who are intended to register inoculation program could create extra pressure and crowd in the centers; thus, the threat of spreading the virus will be increased.
Even though the government introduced a new website, namely, the Shurokkha app for online registration, people still prefer to go to the center physically to complete registration due to a lack of technical knowledge or necessary device.
When the vaccination program against Coronavirus was started, new allegations of fraud came to light in the name of vaccination. It has been reported from previous days some groups are stealing personal information and passwords in the name of helping to get vaccinated. The fraudsters call and ask for some sensitive information like name, number of NID card, passwords, etc. Some cases have also been alleged that stealing money from the mobile wallet and asking money to get inoculated.
Some feasible measures could be taken to overcome these challenges and to make the immunization program successful as well. Necessary training and technical assistance should be provided to the health workers to conserve and manage the inoculation program. The wastage of the vaccines must be kept at the lowest rate. Strong governance and well thought out plan are the key factors of implementing the inoculation program effectively.
It must be communicated to mass people that the temporary side-effects are absolutely normal, common, and even expected after receiving the vaccine. Besides, vaccines have undergone several clinical trials and rigorous tests before the approval of the respective authority. So people should not be worried about getting vaccinated. Social and electronic media like newspapers, Television, and Facebook must play a responsible role in reporting and combating the spread of negative propaganda regarding this issue.
Countrywide immunization programs should be deployed on a national scale so that the services could reach most people because no one is safe; still, everyone is safe. Already, around 34 districts have received the vaccine according to a list prepared by the government, and we are hoped that the remaining districts will get the vaccines soon.
Now we are about to enter the new phase of the pandemic to recovering our losses, but at the same time, it is important to keep in mind that we are not out of danger yet. There is no guarantee about when we could back to our everyday life; besides, we have to coexist with the virus.
Now, it is time to rejoice in the achievement through getting the vaccine, but the protections such as wearing masks, washing hands, social distancing, and avoiding crowded places should be maintained. Otherwise, the immunization would not be adequate, and the negative impact will bounce back to society. It is about one year since the global pandemic has started, and now the path of success came into true. Nevertheless, a long way remains to go further.
The writer is MSS Student, Department of Public Administration, Comilla University, Bangladesh.
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