ISLAMABAD: Four days after allowing vaccination of citizens aged 30 and above against COVID-19, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Wednesday decided to open registration for people over 18 years having computerised national identity cards (CNICs) from Thursday (today).
Around 39 million people will benefit from this decision and almost 100 per cent of the population that can be vaccinated has become eligible for registration.
Moreover, 2,724 people were infected by the virus and 65 died during the last 24 hours, with the national positivity rate recorded at 4.61 per cent.
Announcing the decision through a tweet, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said, “In today’s NCOC meeting we decided to open up vaccination registration for all 19 years and above. This registration will start from tomorrow[Thursday]. So now registration will be open for the entire national population which is approved by health experts for COVID-19 vaccination.”
A senior official of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), requesting not to be named, said overall there were 100 million people over the age of 18 years in the country, and “we are targeting 70 million for vaccination to achieve herd immunity.”
“The number of people over 50 years of age is 27 million, around 12 million fall in the age bracket of 40 to 50 years while 22 million people are in the age group of 30 to 40 years,” the NHS ministry official said.
“Once a considerable number of people in the said age group are registered, we will start vaccinating them,” he said.
When asked why the head of the NCOC, Asad Umar had mentioned in his tweet that 19 years and above people could register, the official said as available vaccines were not yet recommended for people aged up to 18 years, he (Mr Umar) excluded them from his tweet.
“All people with valid CNICs can register themselves and get vaccinated on their turn,” the official said, adding that a CNIC was necessary for vaccination and people to become eligible to apply for an identity card only at the age of 18.
“It takes some time to get the CNIC so no one can be vaccinated just after reaching the age of 18. Besides, Mr Umar has also stated that registration will be open for the entire national population which is approved by health experts for COVID-19 vaccination,” he added.
The NHS official said as of now, only Pfizer had accumulated enough data to vaccinate people below 18 years and over 12. “Things may evolve for other vaccines in future as more data becomes available,” he added.
Replying to another question, he said there was no shortage of vaccines as around 30 million doses were in the pipeline and a lot more would arrive through various channels, including Covax which had pledged free vaccines for 20pc of Pakistan’s population.
On Tuesday, an official of the National Institute of Health had said 120,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been packed locally and hopefully a launching ceremony would be held by the end of the current month.
It may also be mentioned here that the University of Health Sciences has also started working on protocols to commence trials for a nasal vaccine, which would not require a syringe.
Meanwhile, the NCOC data reported 2,724 new cases and 65 deaths in a single day. As many as 517 patients were on ventilators while the number of active cases was 60,268 as of May 26.
A total of 908,576 people have been found infected by coronavirus so far across the country, out of whom 827,843 recovered and 20,465 died.
Moreover, 4,654 patients were admitted to various hospitals.