Covid jab shortage hits vaccination centres in Karachi – Pakistan

KARACHI: A serious shortage of Covid-19 vaccines halted the vaccination process at the Expo Centre facility on Tuesday morning, forcing many people to return home without vaccination.

Sources said the vaccine shortage at the Expo Centre had a ripple effect on other vaccination centres as their stocks were directed towards the mega vaccination centre.

They also said that shortage of vaccines had been prevailing for quite some time and that had led to the closure of some centres located in the city’s suburbs.

‘Brief disruption’

Responding to concerns over vaccines’ stocks, health department officials claimed that vaccines were available in sufficient quantities while vaccine shortage at the Expo Centre was immediately addressed.

“There was a brief disruption of hardly five to 10 minutes in the vaccination process at the Expo Centre as the staff had already informed about the emerging situation and supplies reached the facility in time,” said Dr Samreen Ashraf Qureshi, the provincial focal person for Covid-19 vaccination.

The vaccination facility at Expo Centre, she pointed out, was running round the clock with around 25,000 to 30,000 people getting vaccine shots daily, which explained why disruption of the vaccination process for a brief period created so much public concern.

“Our main target is the Expo Centre facility. It’s the first time that the facility faced shortage of vaccines and hopefully it won’t happen again.”

About vaccine shortage and closure of some centres, Dr Qureshi said while issues were being managed at the time, the department hadn’t received any report about closure of any vaccination centre.

“The vaccine availability situation will improve further as soon as we will receive doses of locally manufactured PakVac vaccine. Currently, we have around 200,000 to 300,000 doses of vaccines, which are meant for those who will receive the jab for the first time. The rest will be managed from the federal stocks.”

Encouraging public feedback

According to the officials, there has been a very positive response from the public for Covid-19 vaccination in recent weeks as demand for vaccination against coronavirus is on the rise.

“We are giving 75,000 doses per day [in Sindh]. This is a great achievement reflecting public trust in the Covid-19 vaccines and the whole process. People’s misconceptions are being removed as they see more people getting the vaccine jab. The response has improved also because the government has removed the age bar,” said Dr Qureshi.

According to her, the AstraZeneca vaccine is being offered to people below 40 years under new guidelines while Pfizer to people with low immunity.

“There is a great demand for the Oxford vaccine from expats, especially those who are employed in Saudi Arabia. They are required to fill out a consent form to get an AstraZeneca shot. That’s due to concerns prevailing about this vaccine in public.”

It might be recalled that Health and Population Welfare Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho in a recent meeting had feared that the country might face a fourth wave of coronavirus due to emerging Covid-19 variants and directed all district administrations to expedite the Covid-19 vaccination drive.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2021