Pakistan reaches 1m Covid shots a day by forcing public-facing workers to get vaccine or stay home

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File: A health worker prepares a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Lahore, Pakistan (AP)
File: A health worker prepares a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Lahore, Pakistan (AP)

Pakistan has administered one million doses in a day, hitting one of its inoculation objectives, after the federal government announced strict penalties last week against those who remain unvaccinated.

The target to give out a million doses comes just weeks away from a deadline that was given to workers telling them to obtain vaccination certificates.

Those who work in shopping malls, hospitality businesses and schools across the country can be barred from entering offices if they don’t produce eligible vaccine certificates, reported news agency Reuters.

In Sindh, the provincial government has threatened to impose a tougher penalty. The government said public officials who are not vaccinated can have their salaries withheld and their SIM cards blocked.

The announcement of the penalty led to long queues at vaccination centres and led to violence in some vaccination centres in Karachi city, the capital of Sindh province, said media reports.

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Some vaccination centres in the city had kilometre-long queues, reported Reuters. Two centres at the Expo Centre and Khaliq Dina Hall in the city were damaged with violence occurring, reported the Dawn newspaper.

The certification of inoculation, in the form of an e-paper, has been tough for several to get, according to a report by Gulf News.

Several of those waiting to receive a second vaccine dose get it late. Those who do get both doses are somehow left out of the country’s database, after which they have to get their information into the portal once they find out when and where they got their inoculations from.

Several unvaccinated others who want to get jabs are faced with supply problems, making it difficult for them to go about their daily business.

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Of the 220 million population of Pakistan, more than 31 million have received at least one dose, but only 6.7 million have been fully vaccinated, according to the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), a military-run body that oversees the COVID-19 operations.

“Happy to report that the target we had set for 1 million vaccinations in a day was crossed yesterday,” tweeted Asad Umar, the minister incharge of overseeing Covid-19 operations, on Tuesday.

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Mr Umar also said national capital Islamabad had become the first city with a population of one million or more to get half its eligible population vaccinated at least once.

The NCOC said Pakistan registered 3,582 cases and 67 deaths in the last 24 hours, with more than 3,300 people in critical condition.

At least 23,529 people have died from Covid in the country that has seen a total of a million infections, with 70 per cent of these infections arising because of the Delta variant, according to officials cited by Reuters.

The Delta variant, first spotted in neighbouring India, has overburdened Pakistan’s weak health infrastructure.

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