Nepalese children aged 5-11 deprived of Covid-19 vaccine due to lack of dose

June 29, 2022

Kathmandu – Thousands of children between the ages of 5 and 11 from 27 districts, where the Covid-19 vaccination was launched on June 23, have been denied shots, which officials say were due to a lack of sufficient doses.

According to the Lalitpur Health Unit, the vaccination campaign was halted before the deadline.

“We were unable to administer the shots to about 30,000 children of the said group in Lalitpur Metropolitan City, Godawari Municipality and Mahankal Rural Municipality,” said Satish Bista, Head of Lalitpur Health Bureau. “We asked for 80,000 doses but only got 50,000 doses.”

The first phase of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign, aimed at children aged 5 to 11, kicked off in 27 districts on Thursday after Nepal received around 2.2 million pediatric doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The week-long campaign was due to continue until Wednesday.

In the first phase, children of the said age group in Jhapa, Ilam, Morang, Sunsari, Saptari, Dhanusha, Parsa, Siraha, Mahottari, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Chitwan, Kavrepalanchok, Sindhuli, Makawanpur, Kaski, Nawalparasi West and Nawalparasi East should be inoculated.

The other districts in which the vaccination campaign was launched in the first phase are

Rupandehi, Banke, Dang, Bardiya, Surkhet, Kailali, Kanchanpur and Dadeldhura, according to Health Ministry officials.

Health Ministry officials admit that thousands of children could have been missed out on the vaccine.

They said, however, that all eligible children will be vaccinated once additional doses of the vaccine arrive.

“Several districts have reported the shortage of vaccines,” said Dr. Samir Kumar Adhikari, joint spokesperson at the Ministry of Health. They will continue vaccination once additional vaccine doses arrive. »

The Ministry of Health had estimated that there were about 2.2 million children in the said age group in the 27 districts, in which the first phase of the campaign was launched. However, the shortage of vaccine doses shows that the number of children between 5 and 11 years old is higher than estimated.

“The actual number of children differs from our estimate,” Adhikari said. “Children who could not receive the shots due to lack of dose will be vaccinated once we have received additional doses.”

Sagar Dahal, head of the national immunization program, said that although the first phase of the campaign is scheduled for one week (June 23-29), local health facilities can expand the program according to local needs.

Officials from the logistics management section of the Department of Health Services said 2,299,200 vaccine doses are expected to arrive on July 3.

“These vaccines will be used for the first and second dose,” said Dr Surendra Chaurasia, section chief. “Those who did not receive the first dose will receive the first dose and those who received the first dose will receive the second dose.”

The second dose of the vaccine will be administered from July 18 to 24 in all 27 districts.

The health ministry said the second phase of the campaign will be launched from August 21 to 27 in the remaining 50 districts.

Nepal received 2,203,200 million Pfizer doses of Covid-19 vaccine from the COVAX facility on Sunday.

The vaccine doses are part of the 8.4 million doses committed by the facility, which is the United Nations-backed international vaccine sharing program. The United States government covered the cost of the vaccine doses and USAID facilitated the supply, officials said.

There are two types of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccines for children: one is for people ages 5 to 11 and the other is for people ages 12 and older. Nepal has already used Pfizer vaccines on people with comorbidities and on children between 12 and 17 years old.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccine recommended by the World Health Organization for use in children between five and 11 years of age.

The American Association of Pediatrics has recommended that 10 microgram doses be given 21 days apart for children between five and 11 years old. The dose, 0.2 ml, is a third of that given to adolescents and adults.

The vaccine vial for ages 5-11 has an orange cap while the other vial has a purple cap.

Each 10-dose vial requires 1.3 milliliters (ml) of diluent according to Pfizer’s preliminary plan.

The US Food and Drug Administration in October authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine in children between five and 11 years old. Several countries have already started administering the vaccine to children.

Although adult Pfizer doses can be stored at normal temperatures (2 to 8 degrees Celsius) for up to 31 days, pediatric doses can be stored at normal temperatures for up to 10 weeks, officials said.

Nepal has so far received 55,584,770 doses of Covid vaccines from different brands – AstraZeneca, Vero Cell, Moderna, Janssen, Sinovac-CoronaVac and Pfizer-BioNTech, including pediatric doses.

So far, no less than 20,267,818 people, or 69.4% of the total population, have been fully vaccinated.

After a drop in cases, infections have recently increased in Nepal.

On Tuesday, 44 people tested positive for Covid-19 (38 out of 1,552 in polymerase chain reaction tests and six out of 946 in antigen tests).

The number of active cases stands at 229 nationwide.

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