Nepal’s disabled get a shot at Covid


Nepal has started to vaccinate people with disabilities across the country against the coronavirus with the Johnson & Johnson single-shot jab. At Kathmandu’s Khagendra New Life Centre, there was a long queue of people in their wheelchairs and walking sticks waiting for their turn to inoculate.

“We welcome the government’s decision to start vaccinating the people with disabilities but we had to advocate a lot to get to this point,” says Raju Basnet of the National Federation of Disabled Nepal.

He adds: “Differently abled people should have been prioritised along with the elderly. As it is, they have very limited access to the services, education and jobs, moreover, they are also immunocompromised.”

All differently-abled individuals with either their citizenship card or disability ID card are eligible for the J&J vaccine. But people with normal disabilities are still not prioritised, say some rights activists.

Nepal received 1.5 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the United States last week under the global COVAX facility and has restarted its vaccination drive with the jab from 19 July.

People in the age group 50-54, individuals with disabilities, and health and essential workers who missed their shot previously are eligible for the American vaccine.

Earlier in the day, the newly-appointed Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who won the confidence motion in the House of Representatives on Sunday night, visited the vaccination centre at the Orthopedic Hospital in Kathmandu’s Jorpati.

He said: “The government’s and my priority is to vaccinate everyone against Covid-19.”

So far, 1,129,908 Nepalis have fully vaccinated, with either AstraZeneca Covishield or Chinese Sinopharm VeroCell vaccine.

The 1.4 million elderly above 65 years of age who received their first dose of Covidshield more than three months ago are desperately waiting for the booster doze. Japan is expected to deliver 1.6 million doses of the jab by the end of July.

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