Sri Lanka to vaccinate nearly 57,000 in Western Province today

ECONOMYNEXT – Nearly 57,000 people in the Western Province will have received the first dose of the Covishield Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine at the end of the day today in what will be Sri Lanka’s largest single-day inoculation of adults, acting Health Minister Channa Jayasumana said.

Speaking to the privately owned Derana network this morning, Jayasumana said 27,018 people in the Colombo district, 17,622 in the Gampaha district, and 11,710 in the Kalutara district were to receive the jab today.

The first dose of the vaccine was to be administered to people in the following areas today:

Colombo district – Kolonnawa, Gothatuwa, Moratuwa, Egoda Uyana, Hanwella Medical Officer off Health (MOH) areas

Kalutara district – Agalawatta, Bandaragama, Mathugama, Panadura, Horana, Beruwala and Kalutara MOH areas

Gampaha district  – Gampaha, Attanagalla, Negombo, Seeduwa, Mahara, Biyagama, Wattala, Minuwangoda, Ragama, Ja-Ela, Kelaniya MOH areas

In select Grama Niladhari divisions, everyone between 30 and 60 will also get the jab, as per the instructions of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the acting minister said.

The minister said those who get their first jab today will receive the second dose of the vaccine in 10 weeks. The first jab of the Covishield vaccine, he said, will provide 70% protection against COVID-19 about three weeks after the shot.

“Initially, it was thought that the second jab should be given in four weeks. But now there is reason to believe it can wait longer. So we have decided to have a gap of 10 weeks,” Jayasumana told Ada Derana.

He gave his assurance that the second dose will be made available, adding that those who receive the first jab today will be notified when to return for the second dose.

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Sri Lanka began vaccinating the general public against COVID-19 on Monday (15) with what was to be the second dose of the Covishield vaccine for frontline workers.

A spokesman for Sri Lanka’s pandemic task force told EconomyNext that members of the public who are at high risk of exposure – for example, port workers – would receive the vaccine, starting in parts of the Western Province that day.

The remaining 250,000 doses of the India-manufatured Covishield-Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that frontline workers were to receive 12 weeks after their first jab would be repurposed for this, the spokesperson said.

Sri Lanka started vaccinating frontline workers in the health sector and the military on January 29, with the half a million doses of Covishield that was donated by the Indian government later that month.

Army Commander Gen Shavendra Silva told the media on Monday that since health officials had decided that for best results the two doses should be given 12 weeks, President Rajapaksa had asked the vaccination task force to consider the possibility of giving those doses to the general public instead.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends giving the two doses intramuscularly (0.5ml each) with an interval of 8 to 12 weeks. (Colombo/Feb17/2021)

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