Bhutan has vaccinated against Covid-19 for 90% of its adult population. This success story is a role model for the surrounding countries.
This small kingdom in South Asia has a population of about 770,000 people and is located in the Himalayan plateau between India and China. It is in these highlands that there are remote villages, nomadic herders, and extreme weather.
The landscape is a challenge for health workers to reach people who are vaccinated. Referring CNN, Bhutan started its campaign to launch a second dose of Covid-19 vaccine on July 20.
It took months of preparation to carry out the Covid-19 vaccination in Bhutan. First, to keep vaccines in ideal conditions when citizens live in hard-to-reach places. Bhutan is rapidly building freezer storage facilities at health clinics across the country.
The government also deployed helicopters to deliver vaccines to more remote locations and volunteer troops distributing vaccines along mountain trails.
As of Tuesday, about 480,000 people had been vaccinated out of a total eligible population of 530,000. UNICEF Bhutan representative Will Parks, in the capital Thimphu, stated that it was the fastest vaccination campaign carried out during the pandemic.
Bhutan gets around 500,000 AstraZeneca vaccines, donated from India. This vaccine was obtained during the first vaccine campaign in March and April.
Bhutan then obtained 500,000 doses of Moderna from the United States through the global COVAX vaccine sharing program. Denmark has donated 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca and China has also donated 50,000 doses of Sinopharm.
Bhutan (Photo: Courtesy)
Bhutan also received more than 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca from Croatia, Bulgaria and several other countries. International donations have been lauded as an example of countries working together to direct excess vaccine where it is needed most.
All Bhutanese over the age of 18 who are eligible for the vaccine are offered the choice of Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. In addition, more than 2,000 children aged 12-17 in two remote districts on the border with India have been injected with the Pfizer vaccine.
The government has also purchased 200,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, which is due to arrive later this year. The hope can be used to vaccinate children.
The program to distribute vaccines safely until they are injected into the population is an achievement involving more than 2,400 health workers and 22,000 volunteers. Those who go door to door.
The charter flight of half a million Moderna vaccines was flown by an Indonesian airline out of Kentucky. This is not an easy job, as Bhutan’s only international airport, Paro, has the most dangerous routes in the world.
The airport is surrounded by steep cliffs, planes have to cross the Himalayan peaks, and the runway is short. Only a few certified pilots were able to make a landing at Bhutan’s airport, less than 20 people.
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