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Frontliners lead from the front

The two-day piloting of inoculation against Covid-19 ended at five public hospitals in the capital yesterday.

Of the 541 people who got the vaccine shots yesterday, 296 were doctors, according to the Directorate General of Health Services.

On Wednesday, 26 people took their first shot of the two-dose Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched the programme from the Gono Bhaban.

Political leaders and eminent personalities also joined frontline health workers yesterday to encourage people to take part in the countrywide mass inoculation campaign, scheduled to launch on February 7.

Since Wednesday, people have been able to register for vaccination on shurokkha.gov.bd or by using the mobile app titled Shurokkha.

The government plans to vaccinate 60 lakh people in the first month of the campaign and another 50 lakh in the following month.

The 567 people who received their first doses will be observed for seven days.

After receiving the shot, State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak said, “A vested quarter is spreading falsehood about the vaccine. I took the vaccine myself to stop the propaganda.”

Palak, the first lawmaker to get the vaccine jab, said he was feeling well.

“Many people asked why politicians were not taking the vaccine. From that point of view, I decided yesterday to take the vaccine,” he said.

The five hospitals where the two-day piloting took place were Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Kurmitola General Hospital, Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Hospital, and Mugda Medical College Hospital.

At the BSMMU, Vice-Chancellor Prof Kanak Kanti Barua was the first person to get a vaccine shot.

Former communication minister Syed Abul Hossain, Health Secretary Md Abdul Mannan, and eminent economist Wahiduddin Mahmud also got inoculated at the BSMMU.

After visiting a vaccination site, Health Minister Zahid Maleque told The Daily Star, “Despite uncertainties, we have started the first-run of vaccination. Some noted personalities have taken the shots. This will encourage others.”

He added, “Anyone unable to register online, can go to a vaccination centre and register.”

Economist Dr Wahiduddin Mahmud said, “I took the first shot today. The jab was painless and I felt okay afterwards.”

At the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), ENT Chief Prof Nurul Fattah Rumi was the first person to get the shot.

After getting inoculated at the DMCH, State Minister KM Khalid of the cultural affairs ministry said, “It is the safest vaccine. Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and some other countries have yet to start vaccination, but Bangladesh has started this. It’s a huge achievement.”

DMCH Assistant Director Ashraful Alam said, “We took the vaccine to encourage people.”

Meanwhile, speakers at a seminar at the BSMMU said the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca was safe with nominal side effects.

Prof Saif Ullah Munshi, chairman of virology at BSMMU, said, “Some five percent people may show hypersensitivity to this vaccine. Given data from around the world, the Oxford vaccine has almost no side effects.”

Speaking as the chief guest, Prof Kanak Kanti Barua said more doctors than nurses of the BSMMU showed willingness to take the shot.

HOW IS RUNU?

The country’s first covid-19 vaccine recipient Runu Veronica Costa, said, “I am in good health. I did not feel any effect, except the slight pain where the needle was pushed. But that is not a constant pain.

“I talked to my colleagues who took the vaccine yesterday and no one complained of any complications.”

A total of 26 people got vaccinated on the first day of the piloting.

The prime minister on Wednesday urged people not to fear the vaccine.

“There is no reason to worry. People should take the vaccine without hesitation.”

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