Pakistan opens coronavirus vaccination drive to all adults

FILE PHOTO: A man wears protective mask maintaining social distance with others as they gather to celebrate Eid al-Fitr prayers to mark the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Peshawar, Pakistan May 13, 2021. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz/File Photo

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan on Wednesday opened up its coronarvirus vaccination campaign to everyone aged 19 or older as it scrambles to protect more of its 220 million people.

Pakistan initially had to deal with vaccination hesitancy and a shortage of vaccine supplies and had limited shots to people aged 30 or over.

But with purchases and donations from China and allocations from the World Health Organisation and the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, it has now secured more than 18 million doses and is keen to get them out into the population.

“We decided to open up vaccination registration for all 19 years and above,” Asad Umar, minister in-charge of supervising anti-COVID operations, said in a post on Twitter.

People can sign up from Thursday, he said.

“So now registration will be open for the entire national population which is approved by health experts for COVID vaccination,” Umar said.

Pakistan has reported more than 900,000 coronavirus infections and some 20,465 deaths. On Wednesday, authorities reported 2,724 new infections and 65 deaths in the previous 24 hours.

Pakistan has administered 5.3 million vaccine doses with supplies from three Chinese companies – Sinopharm, Sinovac and CanSinbio – and the Oxford-AstraZeneca shots.

Pakistan’s private sector has imported nearly 50,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine.

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