The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has fully vaccinated 90 per cent of its eligible adult population within just seven days, its health ministry says.
The home to nearly 800,000 people, began giving out second doses on July 20 in a mass drive that has been hailed by UNICEF as “arguably the fastest vaccination campaign to be executed during a pandemic”.
Many Western countries with far more resources are yet to vaccinate such a high rate of eligible adults. Health experts say Bhutan’s small population helped, but the country also benefited from strong and effective messaging from top officials and an established cold chain storage system.
More than 3000 health workers participated and 1200 vaccination centres across the country helped ensure that shots reached every eligible adult. In some cases, health workers trekked for days through landslides and pouring rain to reach extremely remote villages atop steep mountains to administer doses to those unable to get to a centre, said Dr Sonam Wangchuk, a member of Bhutan’s vaccination task force.
Perhaps this little Himalayan kingdom can be a beacon of hope to countries struggling with vaccination rollouts and vaccine rates.