People still queued up although the programme ended seven hours, 613 individuals and 60 vials of Moderna vaccines later
By Tashi Namgyal
The flu clinic at the RBP helipad in Thimphu was overwhelmed with more than 600 people who came to receive their second dose of covid-19 vaccineyesterday. Although the plan was to vaccinate only around 60 people who volunteered along with the Prime Minister (PM) to taste the mix-and-match vaccination approach with Moderna vaccines, the crowd spoke for itself how eager Bhutanese people are to get themselves inoculated and protected against the virus.
During the first cohort, only 20 vials of vaccines were brought to the flu clinic for inoculation. However, by 11:30 am, the clinic ran out of vaccines while people were already queued up for their turn. The clinic had to procure another 40 vials, with one vial sufficient to vaccinate 10 people.
People of all ages, gender and occupation came to receive the shot. 87 year-old MinduZam from Thimphu was the oldest one who got vaccinated.
“I received my first dose at Lungtenzampa vaccination site and it was very comforting. There was no allergic reaction and that’s why I came to receive the second dose as well. I feel good and I hope everyone does the same,” MinduZam told Bhutan TODAY after receiving her jab yesterday.
Likewise, 80 year-old Dago Tshering from Paro who came to get the jab shared that he did not suffer any side effects from both the doses. “Infact I feel stronger and that’s why I came all the way from Paro to receive the vaccine voluntarily. It lifts my morale and in turn will also encourage other people to get vaccinated,” he said.
By the time the programme ended at around 3:30 pm, only two individuals out of 613 reported to have a slight allergic reaction. “One was itching around the injection site and the other was dizziness which is a common and minor allergic reaction to vaccines,” said the vaccination incharge, Dupthob Sonam.
He said that during the first dose vaccination, they had almost three people out of every 10 people who reported about side effects during the 30 minute observation period after receiving the jab.
“I am surprised and happy at the same time today because people came in droves without any anxiety and people left in droves satisfied with the jab,” he added.
There were also people with diabetes, kidney problem, heart problem and chemotherapy who came to receive the vaccine as well. Medical staffs at the clinic said that it is ok for these people to be vaccinated. However, heart patients who are on medication should stop taking their medicines for 3-4 days after receiving the jab. Those who took Tetanus (TT) vaccine will have to wait for two weeks before they get their covid-19 vaccine.
For those women who took the first dose but are pregnant right now, the second dose will be deferred to a later date and time which will be confirmed and announced by the health ministry.
In his post-vaccination address, Lyonchhen said that he was very happy for being able to provide the Bhutanese people with the second dose, which is synonymous to fulfilling His Majesty The King’s aspirations.
While paying tribute to India and other countries that provided vaccines to Bhutan, the PM said that it is a fortunate moment for being able to provide the people with the vaccine of their choice since it is His Majesty’s command that the people should be given the options.
He said that around 500,000 Bhutanese people in over 1200 vaccination sites across the country are expected to receive the second dose when the campaign starts from July 20.
“We have started dispatching the vaccines since Friday to the respective sites by road, air and whatever means possible. It is our duty to provide the vaccines and it is the people’s duty to receive the vaccines of their choice,” the PM urged.
While all areas irrespective of their zones will be provided with the second dose, Lyonchhen also shared that high risk areas will be given priority.
About the 5000 doses of Pfizer vaccines the country possesses, Lyonchhen said that these vaccines will first be provided to children below 17 year-olds in the high risk and lockdown areas of Samtse and Phuentsholing.
Meanwhile, doctors urged all the people to undergo ‘Pre-vaccination Screening’ before they receive their vaccines.
“The screening is very important because it will let us know the health status of the people to determine whether it is ok for them to receive the vaccination or not,” said Doctor Roshan from JDWNRH.