Government defends vaccinating relatives of health workers

The Government today defended a decision to vaccinate relatives of health workers.

Cabinet co-spokesman Ramesh Pathirana told reporters today that the Government was aware that the immediate family members, relatives and close associates of doctors and nurses have been administered the coronavirus vaccine.

He said that Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarchchi had identified the need to vaccinate the relatives of frontline health workers, as a precautionary measure.

The decision was taken as frontline health workers were at a risk of contracting the virus through their close associates, he said.

Minister Pathirana made the statement in response to a question raised on the token strike launched by the Public Health Inspectors (PHI) today.

Public Health Inspectors launched the strike claiming that the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) had allegedly given remaining AstraZeneca vaccines to their kith and kin.

PHI Association Secretary Mahinda Balasooriya told Colombo Gazette the vaccines had been administered, violating the normal procedure followed by the Ministry of Health.

Sri Lanka is currently facing a shortage of the AstraZeneca vaccine after the Serum Institute of India suspended the delivery of vaccine doses.

The delivery was suspended due to the sudden increase in local demand as a result of a new outbreak in India.

Sri Lanka initially received 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine free of charge from India and the Government purchased another 500,000 vaccines.

The Government was in possession of around 350,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to use as the second dose.

However, due to the suspension of delivery, Sri Lanka is currently facing a shortage of another 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to administer the 2nd jab. (Colombo Gazette)