Govt decides to give Pfizer shots to intending Hajis on priority basis

By: AFP      Published: 04:53 PM, 2 Jun, 2021
Govt decides to give Pfizer shots to intending Hajis on priority basis
File photo.

Since the Saudi government has only approved three Western-made Covid-19 vaccines and Chinese vaccines are not included in its list of approved vaccines, Pakistan’s National Health Department has decided to give shots of US-made Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to intending Hajis, reported 24NewsHD TV channel. 

Pakistan inaugurated its Covid-19 vaccine rollout with three Chinese vaccines namely Sinopharm, Sinovac and Cansino. The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) also approved the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

Since Western vaccines i.e. Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson were not available at that time, the government carried out its inoculation campaign with the Chinese vaccines of which two of them are duly approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

When the Saudi Arabia government announced to open Hajj for foreigners, a wave of happiness spread among Pakistanis who wanted to go to Hajj this year as the KSA had suspended Muslim annual pilgrimage last year. 

But to our utmost dismay, the Saudi government has only allowed the intending hajis who would have Western vaccines certificate with them. Though the government is making efforts to bring around the Saudi government on vaccine issue, but the matter is still pending.

Since the government has received consignments of two Western vaccines; Oxford-AstraZeneca in April and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines in the last week of May under COVAX facility, now the National Health Department has decided to give Pfizer jabs to the intending hajis on priority basis so that they would not be barred from performing their sacred religious duty. 

The UNCEF a few days ago has given 100,000 doses of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to Pakistan. The next consignments of the US-made vaccine would reach Pakistan in the months of July and August. 

The government has bought 23 ultra-cold chain freezers for storing Pfizer vaccine which needs a temperature below -70c. 

The government has also decided to give Pfizer shots to people who intend to go abroad on priority basis. As many Pakistanis who work in Gulf countries, can’t go there because of vaccine issue. 

Reporter Saba Bajeer