The Covid-19 vaccination rate must be increased. Apart from ease of access of vaccination and an accelerated campaign, another way to push people into vaccinating is incentives of being vaccinated and sanctions for not having gotten the jab.
The government seems to be following this route; from Wednesday onwards, people who have not gotten vaccinated will be subject to a number of restrictions. The government has given a timeline; in order to travel on trains and buses and use highways and motorways, citizens will have to be partially vaccinated by September 15 and completely inoculated by October 15. Partially vaccinated people could enter and work in shopping malls but they would have to be fully vaccinated by September 30. Individuals over 17 years would have to get one dose by September 15 and be fully vaccinated by October 15, otherwise, they would not be allowed to enter educational institutions. From Sept 30 onwards, only fully vaccinated people will be able to continue their transport business that catered to students and other school-related supplies.
The move to more direct restrictions against unvaccinated people is not unexpected. It arises out of a rise in coronavirus cases and deaths related to the pandemic. Pakistan reported over 100 Covid-19 deaths for the fourth time in about three weeks, threatening to reverse the initial progress we saw. According to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) data, 3,838 people contracted the virus and 118 patients lost their lives during the last 24 hours.
These restrictions were necessary. The government must be praised for its expansive campaign; it has cleared vaccination for 17-year-olds, and has hit the record number, of over 1.4 million doses, given in a single day throughout the country. Yet as we have seen in the last few months, an active vaccination campaign is not enough. These are still dangerous times, and with the fatality cases because of the virus, and the burden of healthcare facilities increasing, all possible precautions must be taken.