The Ministry of Health’s Epidemiology Unit says the coronavirus vaccination program is ready to start as soon as the vaccine is received.
Dr. Sudath Samaraweera, Chief Epidemiologist, confirmed that the requisite precautionary steps were taken to obtain the vaccines offered by the World Health Organization inside the COVAX facility.
Sri Lanka is to receive the vaccine through the COVAX program of the World Health Organization to administer to 20 percent of the population.
According to the Epidemiology Unit, the Health Ministry has decided on a priority list of recipients of the coronavirus vaccine. Among the recipients prioritized are people above 60 years of age, health workers and other frontline workers.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi said in parliament yesterday a suitable COVID-19 vaccine or vaccines that is suitable for Sri Lanka should be obtained carefully.
She said it is essential to comprehensively study the research reports on the vaccine, the effectiveness of the vaccine, the side effects, the temperature at which the vaccine should be stored and the approval received by the Drug Regulatory Authority.
The Minister also pointed out that this information has not been released for the majority of vaccines introduced so far.
She said President’s Principal Adviser Lalith Weeratunga, as a special envoy appointed by the President, is holding diplomatic discussions with various countries to study the details of the Covid vaccine manufactured in foreign countries and coordinate the necessary action.
The Minister pointed out that there is an accepted methodology for introducing a new vaccine to Sri Lanka and that the Advisory Committee on Infectious Diseases chaired by the Director General of Health Services is working to introduce new vaccines to the country under the National Immunization Policy of Sri Lanka.
The Health Minister said the Advisory Committee is already preparing the Vaccine Deployment Plan which includes a number of factors such as the targeted group for vaccination, vaccination sites, and regulation of other aspects of the vaccines such as cold storage and identification of side effects after vaccination.
The Minister said the vaccine will be given to the public as soon as it is received.
The Minister of Health pointed out that all the necessary legal steps are being taken to import the vaccine and that agreements have been signed with the World Health Organization since last July.
The Minister also stated that action will be taken to bring a vaccine to Sri Lanka as soon as the Advisory Committee on Infectious Diseases has recommended a vaccine or several vaccines.