Second dose for remaining children to rollout from 26 October

Children in the remaining 15 districts will receive their second dose against Covid-19

About 7,000 adults will be jabbed with their second doses of Moderna vaccine along with 42,900 remaining children in 15 districts across the country

LHAKPA TSHERING

Thimphu

Following the arrival of the first tranche of government procured 100,000 doses of Moderna vaccines in the country, the second round of vaccination for about 42,900 remaining children aged between 12 to 17 in 15 districts is scheduled to roll out from 26 to 30 October.

The vaccination program includes the highest number of children in Paro with 4,883 followed by Trashigang and Samtse with 4,586 and 4,430 children, respectively. Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar Thromde together have about 1,300 children who will get their second dose.

In addition, the arrival of additional vaccines will allow the government to inoculate about 7,000 adults – 18 years and above – who received the Moderna vaccine as their first dose but have not received a second dose, further expanding the coverage of the vaccination program.

Health officials say these adults will be given Moderna vaccine for the second dose along with the children although most of the adult populations who received Moderna as their first dose were given AstraZeneca vaccine in the second round.

While the vaccines were transported in 15 districts for the children, the health ministry will discuss with the five districts – Bumthang, Lhuentse, Mongar, Punakha, and Wangdue Phodrang – on their Moderna vaccine requirement for the second dose of adults and supply it accordingly.

These vaccines are among 250,000 doses of Moderna vaccine that the government entered into a procurement contract agreement with the United States Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Company to continue jabbing children.

It cost USD 5.55-million equivalent to Nu 423.700-million including transportation costs and the remaining 150,000 doses are expected to be delivered during the first quarter of 2022.

The second dose to continue jabbing the children was deferred as the available Pfizer vaccines were saved for children aged between 5 to 11 years, if there is an approval, and also the national immunization technical advisory group’s (NITAG) recommendation interval from initial 6 to 8 weeks to 8 to 12 weeks later on following the WHO recommendations.

The current second dose coverage for children is only 19.5 percent while the first dose vaccination with the mRNA vaccine has achieved 99 percent of coverage. And the coverage of the overall population is 79.5 percent with the first dose and 67.5 percent with the second dose.

Meanwhile, the NITAG recommended a third dose of the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines for immunocompromised people and a booster dose of mRNA for people aged 60 and older, active frontline workers, and individuals with chronic medical conditions.

Currently, Bhutan has an estimated stockpile of 9,460 AstraZeneca vaccines expiring this October, 360 leftover Moderna vaccines expiring on 22 November 2021, 69,600 Covishield vaccines expiring on 5 March 2022, 159,798 doses of Pfizer vaccines expiring in December 2021, and 47,871 doses of Sinopharm that will expiry on 4 March 2023.

With the available AstraZeneca vaccines nearing their expiry date, sources say that the health ministry will discontinue vaccination for adults from 1 November.

This is because the available mRNA vaccine will have to be prioritized for unvaccinated children. However, it will continue to provide vaccination for the new adults entering the country and also those who could not avail themselves of the vaccination because of medical conditions.