By: Krishna Nepal (NRCS)/ Manorama Gautam (IFRC, CO Nepal)
When one entered the premises of Janamatri Hospital of Balaju Kathmandu it looked calm and peaceful, the usual scene of any hospital. When one reached the waiting area, colourful chairs were arranged where the COVID-19 vaccine aspirants could wait for their turn after taking a token number. Immediately after the entrance, there was a registration desk managed by the hospital to register the details of the people being there for being vaccinated. There was also a desk for a preliminary check-up where a paramedic was busy checking up one of the elderly person who was taking the vaccine. Inside, there was a room for vaccination where another paramedic was providing vaccines to the elderly. Throughout the process, there were three volunteers wearing white jacket and cap with Red Cross logo working actively.
The Red Cross volunteers were serving continuously from 7 March 2021, since the second round of vaccination campaign to the people of 65 years and above launched in the country.
Bishwo Raj Shrestha, one of the Red Cross volunteers, er who was actively supporting the campaign said “due to the collaboration with the local authorities, hospital management and Nepal Red Cross, it’s being easy to manage the crowd gathered for the vaccination. We are implementing the token system for the vaccination. In addition, NRCS volunteers are providing various supports such as mobility through wheelchair for people with disability or people having the problem for mobility”.
Although people had a sort of hesitancy during the first round of the vaccination that started from 27 January 2021, in the second phase it was much encouraging. Thakur Prashad Bhandari (81) at the vaccination camp stated, “the vaccination campaign launched by the Government is for the people and is a good initiative of the Government.” He was happy to share “the paramedic in this centre is really good, I didn’t even feel a pinch when I was being vaccinated”. He was in the vaccination centre since 8 AM and waited patiently for his turn at around 11 AM.
Next, the scenario at Himal Hospital in Naxal of Kathmandu, a vaccination centre for Kathmandu Metropolitan City Ward Numbers 1,5,29 and 30, was similar to Janamaitri Hospital. In the vaccination center, a volunteer Red Cross volunteer was supporting the Government team for registration, and another volunteer with Red Cross cap was assisting to manage the tally sheet in the vaccination room.
Sunita Chettry Bohara, vaccination coordinator at the camp, from the Government of Nepal asserted,“Red Cross volunteers are technically efficient for all kinds of tasks. Their help is a great support in this campaign”.
In the vaccination centre at Himal Hospital, the degree of vaccine hesitancy was verly low. Instead, it was encouraging to see the elderly people being excited for getting vaccinated. Ms. Bohara added, “the elderly people are excited, motivated and cautious for the vaccination. They are sharing their medical history. They have been consulting doctors if they could be vaccinated”.
Till 18 March, 1,673,227 people got vaccinated with the first dose of covishield vaccine from Astra/Zeneca. Except some few cases, no serious cases with side effects were reported in Nepal. Nepal Red Cross Society mobilized 210 staff and volunteers nationally in 105 vaccination centers in 50 districts.