Health workers first to get COVID-19 vaccine in Nepal

KATHMANDU, NEPAL (AP) — Thousands of health workers lined up across Nepal to get the coronavirus vaccine yesterday as the Himalayan nation began a three-month vaccination campaign.

At the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu, doctors were encouraging hesitant colleagues to get the vaccine. “We have to initiate this. If we will not take, then who will take this vaccine? We can’t say we will not take this as we are doctors,” said Dr Poonam Sharma.

Hospital Director Dr Dinesh Kafle said 300 staffers got the vaccine yesterday and the remaining 2,000 within a week.

Nepal received as a gift from neighbouring India one million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine manufactured under license by the Serum Institute of India.

It’s aiming to get 72 per cent of its 30 million people vaccinated within three months and is making the two-dose vaccine free to citizens.

On the first day, 12,000 doctors, nurses, custodians, ambulance drivers and other health workers will be vaccinated, with the number increasing in the next few days, Health Minister Hridayesh Tripathi said. The 120 vaccination centres in use will be doubled.

It plans to vaccinate 430,000 health workers in the next 10 days before expanding the campaign and is working to get more shipments.

Nepal has reported 270,092 cases of coronavirus infection and 2,017 deaths from COVID-19.

A health worker inoculates a colleague with the COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine. PHOTO: AFP