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    No takers for COVID-19 booster vials in Sri Lanka

    HealthCOVID-19No takers for COVID-19 booster vials in Sri Lanka
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    No takers for COVID-19 booster vials in Sri Lanka

    There is a rise in COVID-19 hospitalisations in Sri Lanka. Yet, people are reluctant to take the vaccine booster.

    Over 5000 cases of COVID-19 were reported from across Sri Lanka last week. 82 people had died. Almost 65 per cent of the people in the island nation have been fully vaccinated.

    But Sri Lanka has another, and a very different problem on its hands.

    There are no takers for the millions of unused booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country. Health authorities say they would hate to see the vaccines expire.

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    State minister of pharmaceutical production Channa Jayasumana said the booster dose stock in store will expire by July 2022. The stock is around nine million.

    “We purchased around 14 million booster doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and only close to five million have been distributed so far,” he said. “If the public refuses to take the booster dose now, it will expire by July 2022.”

    From urging people to contemplating legal action

    Health officials have been urging people to get the initial vaccines and if eligible to take the booster dose without delay.

    “Please take it, because data indicates that the number of patients are increasing,” said Deputy Director of the Colombo National Hospital Dr Chandana Gajanayaka.

    The lack of enthusiasm flies in the face of the island nation’s strong record of a highly functional immunisation programme.

    “Legal action against those responsible for the spread of communicable diseases can be taken under the Penal Code”, said Senal Fernando, secretary of the government medical officers association.

    Fernando said that “provisions of the quarantine ordinance can be used against persons who do not comply with directions given by the proper authorities under the quarantine ordinance.”

    Health officials on Monday started to administer the second dose for children between 16-19 years of age.

    Spate of hospitalisations and sick staff

    COVID-19 admissions to the hospital in the country have increased over the past week and public health inspectors union chairman Upul Rohana said, adding that the number of symptomatic cases and hospitalisations have increased throughout the country.

    He spoke of hospital staff too falling sick and said that there has been an increase in the number of COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen.

    Rohana’s warning was clear: the numbers will continue to rise and likely lead to a situation similar to the second wave of the pandemic.

     

    Image courtesy: Sri Lanka Red Cross Society

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