Only 180,000 (2.25 percent) of around eight million senior citizens in the country have registered themselves for vaccination campaign so far.

As the government’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign for over 65-year-old citizens is set to start this week, only 180,000 (2.25 percent) of around eight million senior citizens in the country have registered themselves for inoculation so far.

The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has described it as a slow response, considering that there are around eight million people above 65 years of age in Pakistan.

The government started registration of senior citizens for the vaccination programme on Feb 15 soon after its announcement by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan on Twitter. “All Pakistanis above the age of 65 can start registration for Covid-19 vaccine starting today. Send an SMS from any mobile phone with your CNIC to 1166 or visit to get registered. Vaccine center and date of appointment be communicated once vaccine arrives,” he had tweeted.

Also, federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar tweeted that the registration was open for the vaccination which would start in the first week of March.

An official of the Ministry of NHS, requesting anonymity, said that according to estimates the population of people, aged 65 and above, was around eight million.

He said: “We urge people that they should register themselves so that they would be inoculated as soon as vaccine would reach at the Adult Vaccination Centres (AVCs) in Pakistan.”

The official admitted that the registration had been started two weeks back but till date only around 180,000 people had got registered for the vaccination which was “not a very positive response”.

Since the launch of the vaccination drive, beginning with health care workers (HCWs) on February 2, half a million doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine, donated by China, have reached Pakistan. Besides, the Pakistan Army donated a stock of vaccine, given by China for the armed forces, to HCWs not more than 60 years of age. The vaccination of health care workers was still under way when the PM’s aide announced registration for the second round of the programme to cover senior citizens.

Earlier, Covax — an international alliance which has pledged to provide free vaccine for 20per cent population of Pakistan — has intimated the government that 2.8 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine are expected to reach Pakistan in the first week of March.

Moreover, around 17.1 million doses will reach Pakistan by the end of June this year. AstraZeneca vaccine can be administered to senior citizens.

According to latest data of National Command and Operation Centre on Covid, as many as 1,392 cases and 36 deaths were reported in a single day. The number of active cases increased to 22,098 as of 1st March while 2,005 patients are hospitalised across the country.

Meanwhile, a board of doctors from Pakistan Institute of Medical Science (PIMS) on Monday conducted medical checkup of the former President Asif Ali Zardari at Zardari House, Islamabad. The team recommended a few essential tests after the check-up that lasted about an hour.

Originally published at Dawn