Government procures Pfizer vaccines worth USD 1.342 m

Tenzin Choden/Thimphu To vaccinate 12- 17 years children with 59,000 eligible for second dose and first dose for about 20,000 children, the government procured Pfizer-BionNTech vaccines worth USD 1.342 m. Availing 198,900 Pfizer vaccines on September 7, the vaccines were wholly funded by the Royal Government of Bhutan. According to Ministry of Health (MoH), the vaccines will ensure vaccine coverage for all the children between the ages of 12-17. In a post shared in the official Facebook handle of Ministry of Health, the post thanks His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo for constant guidance to secure the vaccines. “With the Government's constant effort guided by His Majesty the King in securing the vaccines for all the eligible population in Bhutan, 198,900 doses of Pfizer vaccine arrived today. It is fully funded by the Royal Government of Bhutan and the cost of the vaccine is USD 1.342 million (Nu. 101.377 million),” states Ministry of Health’s Facebook post. “The vaccines will be used for the children of 12-17 years. The rollout is tentatively planned in the 2nd -3rd week of September, 2021,” states the post. According to National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NI-TAG), the dates to rollout the second dose of vaccines for the children will be tentatively drive by the second or the third week of September. It was also confirmed by the Ministry of Health (MoH). Speaking at the Ministerial Round Table to deliberate on ‘building back better’ a resilient health system to achieve Universal health coverage (UHC) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets, Health Secretary, Dr Pandup Tshering recaps, “We must increase investment in workforce, infrastructure and essential services to achieve UHC and explore ways to improve access to affordable and quality health care.” Hinting at the unprepared fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic, the health secretary states: ““there is an urgent need to prioritise and enhance investments in health workforce, health infrastructure, safe and timely access to medical supplies and in enhancing emergency preparedness vis-a-vis systems to ensure uninterrupted essential health services particularly in the LDCs and LMICs. More than ever, we need to ensure that health systems are resilient and robust enough to respond to the unforeseen challenges of the future.” Along the similar lines, the Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo at her address at the 74th Session of the Regional Committee (RC) for South East Asia Region states: “it is concerning to note that 75% of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in just 10 countries, globally. This is a clear indication to further strengthen global solidarity. Acting collectively is the only way out of this pandemic.” Meanwhile, with vaccinating 12-17 age group, NI-TAG notifies that the country will achieve 80 per cent in terms of vaccine coverage. In the high risk area, vaccination for children aged 12-17 years in Phuentsholing and Samtse. With relatively higher risk in Samtse and Phuentsholing, the Ministry started vaccinating children aged 12-17 years in these high risk areas. More than 800 children were vaccinated in Phuentsholing and more than 700 children in Samtse.