Elderly Nepalese take shots after vaccination drive against COVID-19 restarts
Published: Jun 09, 2021 02:47 PM
A woman receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Kathmandu, Nepal, June 8, 2021. (Xinhua/Sulav Shrestha)

A woman receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Kathmandu, Nepal, June 8, 2021. (Xinhua/Sulav Shrestha)

Over the past two months, 60-year-old Nita Sharma has exercised extreme caution by keeping a social distance as far as possible to avoid being infected with COVID-19 whenever she went out of her house.

As her country has been devastated by a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic since early April, which has left thousands of people sick each day, the Nepalese woman has been feeling uneasy about failing to get herself inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine during the past vaccination campaigns starting from Jan. 27.

"Initially, I had little interest in taking vaccine after hearing about the side effects," the woman from the Bhimsengola neighborhood in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, told Xinhua.

"After seeing so many people become sick and dead due to the pandemic, I wish I had got a shot earlier," she said.

As the government restarted its vaccination program on Tuesday following the arrival of vaccines granted by China, Nita rushed to a vaccination center along with her husband, 65-year-old Rajesh Raj Sharma, and got first dose administered.

Under the restarted program, those to be inoculated are people aged 60-64 in the Kathmandu Valley and people aged 62-64 outside the valley, while people above 18 years old and living in some other districts are covered as well.

Besides, health workers and students of medical colleges who missed vaccine doses in the past vaccination campaigns can get a shot of the Chinese vaccine, according to a notice issued by Nepal's Ministry of Health and Population.

The latest vaccination drive pleased Dhruwa Prasad Dulal, a 64-year-old trader from the New Baneshwor neighborhood of Kathmandu. Involved in Nepal-China trade, Dulal has been waiting for more Chinese vaccines to arrive in the country so that he can take the first jab as he has to travel to China frequently for business purposes.

Dulal is involved in exporting pashmina to China and has a shop in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province. He could not take a shot of the Chinese vaccine in April because it was only for the people aged 18-59.

"I didn't want to miss this opportunity of taking a vaccine and keeping myself safe from COVID-19," Dulal said after taking a jab.

Nepal has been struggling to secure vaccines from other countries for vaccinating its citizens against a devastating second wave of the coronavirus infections which began in early April as the country has only got around 2 percent of its population administered with two doses now.

With the restarted vaccination drive, Nepal aims to inoculate around half a million people, according to the Health Ministry.

"We allocated the vaccine shots as per the needs of vaccine doses in each district by analyzing the population of each district," Tara Nath Pokharel, director at the Family Welfare Division of Nepal's Ministry of Health and Population, told Xinhua.

He noted that the Chinese vaccine has been found to be effective without side effects.

Nepal was among the first few countries that started its vaccination drive in late January.

Nepal received a shipment of vaccines donated by China in late March.

Of Nepal's total population of some 30 million, 2.11 million have so far taken first dose of vaccines, while 691,494 have been administered twice as of Tuesday, according to the Health Ministry.

As of Tuesday, the country logged a total of 595,364 COVID-19 cases, with 504,530 already recovered, while the national death toll stood at 8,098.
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