Healthcare workers will be vaccinated first says Health Minister
ECONOMYNEXT – Around 155,000 front line healthcare workers in Sri Lanka are to receive the COVID-19 vaccine first, Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told Parliament today.
She said that Sri Lanka had already held diplomatic level discussions with India, China and Russia in order to get the COVID-19 vaccine to the country while not relying only on the COVAX facility provided by the World Health Organisation.
Further, she said that through the COVAX facility only COVID-19 vaccines are provided to countries and not the funds to purchase vaccines.
She said, if the Pfizer vaccine is given through the WHO’s COVAX facility, steps will be taken to give it to the people.
She added that proposals to develop the cold storage facilities to store the vaccine have been presented to GAVI after identifying their shortcomings and that a grant of USD 370,000 is expected to develop them.
“Special training has been arranged to train the health staff on the COVID vaccination process,” she said.
Moreover, she said that the National Deployment of Vaccination Plan (NDVP) should be submitted to COVAX before January 15 and officials are confident of submitting the plan by January 12.
However, she said that since there is a technical opinion that the vaccine should not be given to pregnant women and children below 18 years, which consist of 35pct of the population of the country, the priority groups to give the vaccine have been identified.
First priority is the front line health workers which amount to 155,000 who are 0.68pct of the population, next in the list the 127,500 front line tri forces and police personnel which is 0.56pct of the population
Next in the list are the group of the population over 60 which amounts to 3,159,800 who are 14pct of the total population and then the group of migrant workers, sanitation workers and the other high-risk groups which amount to 225,700 who are 1pct of the population
Then the 3,227,510 working-class population between 18-59 with underlying conditions which is 14.3pct and the 3,114,660 working-class population between 40-59 without other diseases which is 13.8pct of the total population.
She also added that Sri Lanka is expecting a grant of USD 5 million from the Asian Development Bank for vaccine purchases. (Colombo/Jan07/2021)
Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe