COVID-19: Pakistan makes vaccination mandatory for private, public sector staff

Pakistan covid vaccine
A man receives AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Lahore. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: After reaching the milestone of administering more than 10 million doses on Wednesday, Pakistan has made coronavirus vaccination mandatory for office workers to speed up vaccination drive and address hesitancy.

All public and private sector employees will have to get vaccinated to return to the offices. The government employees have been asked to get vaccinated as early as the end of June.

  1. Latest COVID-19 announcements: All vaccination centres to remain open from 8am to 10pm daily from June 11 (except Sundays).
  2. All those above 18 can avail of walk-in facilities across the country from June 11.
  3. Restrictions on business closure will be relaxed from two days a week to one day.
  4. Existing 50 per cent work from home policy to revert to 100 per cent office attendance.
  5. Selected non-contact sports to be permitted. Partial opening of indoor gyms for vaccinated members only
  6. Ban on the closure of cinemas to remain in place. Restrictions on recreation places, education, travel will remain in place.

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the organization leading the national efforts against the pandemic, has made vaccination mandatory to counter vaccine hesitancy and misinformation threats.

Pakistan has announced the opening of walk-in vaccination centres for all citizens above 18 years of age from June 11, according to a statement issued after the meeting co-chaired by NCOC chief Minister Asad Umar and NCOC coordinator Lt Gen Hamood uz Zaman Khan. Pakistan aims to vaccinate at least 70 million people by the end of the year.

Vaccination strategy

Pakistan government is also considering introducing certain incentives for various sectors to encourage vaccinations. The NCOC is now focusing on a three-pronged mass vaccination strategy: Voluntary vaccinations for all citizens; obligatory vaccinations for public and private sector employees and incentivised vaccination campaign to encourage people to get jabbed.

$1billion allocated to procure vaccines

To ramp up the vaccination drive in the country of 220 million and reopen cities, Pakistan’s federal government has also approved the allocation of $1 billion for vaccine procurement. The government had had already procured $250 million worth of vaccines.

Pakistan has so far received nearly 15 million doses of different coronavirus vaccines including Sinopharm, Sinovac, CanSino, Sputnik V, AstraZeneca and Pfizer.

Pakistan also decided to relax some of the coronavirus restrictions as the virus positivity rate in the country dropped to 2.5 per cent on Wednesday. The country has witnessed a significant decline in coronavirus cases this week. Pakistan reported 1,118 new infections and 77 fatalities in the past 24 hours. This is the lowest daily count since March 1 when the country reported 1,163 cases. At least 335,790 people received their COVID-19 jabs in the past 24 hours. Almost 43,900 tests were conducted during the last day.