Children’s Pfizer doses will be available next week, on June 23.
Kathmandu: Over two million children aged 5 to 11 will be vaccinated in the first phase across 27 districts.
Although the exact date of supply is yet unknown, the Ministry of Health and Population has begun preparations to start distributing Pfizer’s Covid vaccination to children aged five to eleven years old on June 23.
Officials with the Department of Health Services said they expect to get two million vaccination shots about a week ahead of schedule, but the supply could be delayed until June 23. The rollout will be postponed if there is a delay.
“We do not yet know the exact date of supply, but it could also be delayed to June 23,” an official at the Department of Health Services said, asking not to be named.
“Preparations are underway to roll out the jabs from June 23 hoping that we receive them by June 19, the initially agreed date. But we are not completely sure if the doses will arrive on that date.”
The Health Ministry has chosen to launch the vaccination campaign for children aged five to eleven years in two phases, with the first phase taking place in 27 districts and the second phase taking place in the other 50 districts.
The first round of vaccination will take place in Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Saptari, Dhanusha, Parsa, Siraha, Mahottari, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Chitwan, Kavrepalanchok, Sindhuli, and Nawalparasi West.
According to Health Ministry officials, vaccination efforts are also scheduled in Rupandehi, Banke, Dang, Kapilvastu, Bardia, Surkhet, Kailali, Kanchanpur, and Dadeldhura in the first phase.
Sagar Dahal, the chief of the National Vaccination Program, stated that his department does not expect a supply delay and that the push will begin on June 23 and last through June 29.
Nepal will receive 8.4 million free paediatric vaccines of Pfizer-BioNTech. The vaccine doses, which will be provided through COVAX, the United Nations-backed worldwide vaccine-sharing scheme, will be paid for by the US government. Officials indicated that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) had facilitated the process.
The Department of Health Services has already secured emergency use authorisation for the Pfizer doses from the Department of Drug Administration, and completed training of health workers of 21 districts.
Training is being imparted to health workers of six districts where the first phase of the campaign will be launched.
The Pfizer doses will not have any storage issues, according to officials, because they will be delivered immediately to provinces upon arrival.
“We will send the doses to provinces, which will supply to districts and local units,” said Dr Surendra Chaurasia, chief of the Logistic Management Section, under the Department of Health Services.
Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccinations are available in two forms for children: one for those aged five to eleven, and another for those aged twelve or beyond. Pfizer vaccines have already been deployed in Nepal on people with comorbidities and children aged 12 to 17.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only jab recommended by the World Health Organisation for use in children between five and 11 years old.
Children from five to eleven years old should receive 10 microgram doses separated by 21 days, according to the American Association of Paediatrics. The dose is one-third of what is given to adolescents and adults, at 0.2ml.
The vaccine vial for 5–11 year olds comes with an orange cap while the other vial is purple-capped.
Each vial with 10 doses needs 1.3 millilitres (ml) of diluent under Pfizer’s preliminary plan.
Officials plan to administer the second dose of the vaccine to children from July 18 to 25.
Dahal stated that once the first phase of vaccination in 27 districts is completed, preparations for the second phase of the Campaign will begin, which is expected to begin in late August.
Covid vaccines from AstraZeneca, Vero Cell, Moderna, Janssen, Sinovac-CoronaVac, and Pfizer-BioNTech have been delivered to Nepal a total of 53,381,570 doses.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, as of Sunday, 19,981,665 individuals, or 68.4 percent of the total population, have been properly vaccinated across the country.