Pakistan launches nationwide vaccination campaign

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday launched the nationwide vaccination drive against coronavirus, during which 40,000 health workers would be inoculated on the first day, officials said.

NCOC hosted the inaugural ceremony of the national COVID-19 vaccination program with Federal Minister of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar as chairman, flanked by National Coordinator NCOC Lieutenant General Hamood Uz Zaman Khan.

Commercial Council of Ministers of China Xie Guoxiang was the main guest, with Federal Minister of Science and Technology Fawad Hussain Chaudhary, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) of Health Dr. Faisal Sultan and SAPM on Poverty Reduction Sania Nishtar was also present.

Speaking on the occasion, Asad Umar praised the victims and deserving services from health workers for serving the nation during the pandemic.

“Frontline health workers are our real heroes. They have undoubtedly risked their lives in their fight against COVID-19, and we pay tribute to them all,” he said.

He thanked the Chinese government for supporting Pakistan during the crisis in COVID-19.

He also paid tribute to the NCOC team and provincial authorities working closely together in the fight against COVID-19 at the forum.

Asad Umar said the simultaneous opening ceremony was the focus of national efforts highlighting the overall cooperation between the provinces and the federal government, which collectively fights the infection.

All the affiliated units including Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir held separate events to start the vaccination drive.

On Monday, Pakistan received 0.5 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine, which is administered to front-line healthcare professionals in the first phase.

The authorities have made special arrangements for the distribution of the vaccine across the country in a safe environment under a safety plan prepared by the NCOC.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran started the coronavirus vaccination drive, again reminding the people to continue taking precautions.

Under the supervision of the Prime Minister, his health adviser Dr. Faisal Sultan and NCOC chief Asad Umar, the first vaccine was administered in Pakistan – given to a health worker in Islamabad.

“The more you comply with coronavirus security measures, the easier it will be to protect everyone from the virus,” said Prime Minister Imran Khan, speaking at a rally to mark the occasion.

“I congratulate you [all those present here] to work at high speed to import a vaccine. We also thank China for giving us 500,000 vaccines, ”he said.

The Prime Minister said that similar to the shot the doctor had received, healthcare professionals across the country working with coronavirus patients will be the first to get the jab, after which the age groups most at risk will get the shot.

The premiere also sought to reassure the nation that vaccine distribution across the various provinces is taking place in a “fair” way. “No one should think that we distributed more vaccines in a given province than in others.”

He stressed the importance of health professionals getting the shot, as “everywhere in the world, it is health workers who are most at risk”.

“I would also like to emphasize to the nation the importance of coronavirus SOPs (standard operating procedures) and especially wearing a mask.

The Prime Minister said schools have been reopened and so will hospitals doing so soon enough. “Our cases are in decline right now. The more you follow SOPs, the easier it will be to save our people from coronavirus.”

He said other countries due to the high death toll have had to go for complete lockdowns.

“Our economy is running and it is the service sector that has been curtailed. If you exercise caution, all remaining sectors will reopen,” said Prime Minister Imran Khan.

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