Having overcome vaccine shortages and inadequate cold storage for shots, Nepal’s Covid-19 immunization drive has now been hampered by another problem: a shortage of syringes.
Nepal’s Health Ministry announced on Monday that a second drive to administer donated Pfizer vaccines to children had been postponed indefinitely.
Sagar Dahal, chief of Nepal’s national immunization program, said that the authorities in the small Himalayan nation had planned to start administering shots to children ages 12 to 17 in eight districts starting on Tuesday. “But we couldn’t arrange syringes for vaccines meant for children and the scheduled inoculation campaign has been postponed for the time being,” he said.
Mr. Dahal added that, although officials had recently scrambled to find five million syringes for other vaccines — the Indian-manufactured Covishield and the Chinese vaccine Vero Cell — they couldn’t arrange the smaller syringes needed for the Pfizer shots, which were the ones to be administered to children.
Health Ministry officials said that they had faced delays in acquiring the syringes both from Covax, a global pool that provides vaccine supplies to poorer nations, and directly from other suppliers.
Badebabu Thapa, a spokesman for the Health Ministry, said that about 15 million additional syringes were needed for the overall inoculation drive, for all vaccines, in children and adults. Nepal has fully vaccinated about 34 percent of its total population of 30 million, according to the Our World in Data Project at the University of Oxford.
In addition to receiving supplies from Covax, Nepal has been acquiring syringes and other medical equipment from China and India. But India is among the countries that have limited the supply of syringes to other countries to meet its own domestic demand, forcing the World Health Organization to warn of a shortfall, particularly in Africa.