Pakistan’s Punjab Govt. may block SIM cards of unvaccinated citizens

As the Pakistan government continues to spread awareness about vaccination, around 300,000 recipients of the first dose never returned to receive the second dose of the vaccine

An unusual move to tackle coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccine hesitancy, the provincial government in Pakistan’s Punjab has now decided to block the SIM cards of unvaccinated citizens, a news agency reported on Friday. 

The decision, as per ARY News, was taken at a meeting in Lahore presided over by the province’s health minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid. The move is seemingly aimed at forcing all those citizens who refuse to get themselves vaccinated to do so at the earliest.

The provincial government has been using all resources to contain the spread of coronavirus in the province, said Dr Rashid. She added that there has been a considerable decrease in Covid-19 cases in Punjab because of the implementation of SOPs and mass vaccination.

An official of the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) said the second dose of the majority of the Covid-19 vaccines is administered after an interval of three weeks. However, in the case of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the second dose is given after a period of 12 weeks.

“Around 300,000 first dose recipients never showed up on their due dates,” he said.

“We are categorising such people; there is a possibility that some of them might have died before getting their second dose. Another group which has been identified consists of those who contracted Covid-19 after receiving their first dose and then decided not to get the second one. Others might have fallen to the negative propaganda and skipped the vaccination,” he added

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s finance minister Shaukat Tarin is set to present the country’s budget speech in capital Islamabad on Friday afternoon, as he faces a challenge in walking the fine line between spending big over post-Covid economic recovery and keeping the budget deficit in check as Pakistan emerges from the more infectious third wave of the coronavirus disease (Covid pandemic).

Till June 1, the government had vaccinated only 4.2m people out of 67m total target population in Punjab, which constituted a 6.3% vaccination rate only, showing desperately low coverage to fight the pandemic.

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