Zafrullah Chowdhury has urged the people to take the coronavirus vaccine without any fear, saying he would get the jab if he is called up early.
The founder and trustee of the Gonoshasthaya Kendra also urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to launch the vaccination programme by take the first shot to calm the public nerves.
"Let me be straightforward. There is nothing to be afraid of the vaccine,” said Zafrullah, a doctor by training, before pointing out that all drugs may have some side effects.
“I’ll receive the jab if I’m called up and my name comes first. But I want Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina to get it first," he added, as he spoke at a discussion at the Gonoshasthaya Kendra in Dhaka on Friday.
Explaining why he wants Hasina to take the jab first, he said the arrival of 2 million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from India is absolutely “good news”, but many in the neighbouring country have refused the vaccine.
In Bangladesh, Zafrullah believes, all confusion will be gone if Hasina kicks off the drive by receiving the first jab live on television.
“The honourable prime minister will need to urge all to take the vaccine after getting her first shot. I have trust in her that she will do it,” said Zafrullah, a leader of the opposition BNP-led Jatiya Oikya Front alliance.
He hoped everyone will get the vaccine, with the doctors, laws enforcers and others on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19.
The government is planning to begin the vaccination drive by Jan 29 after Bangladesh received 2 million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine arrived as gift from India on Thursday.
On the first day, 20 to 25 people, one representative each from the doctors, nurses, valiant freedom fighters, teachers, police, the army, administration and journalists, will be given the shots before a dry run on hundreds. After a week of observation, the drive will begin in full swing.
The government will prioritise people aged over 77 in the first phase of the campaign. Health Minister Zahid Maleque said politicians and VIPs are not in the target population prioritised in the vaccine drive plan.
A freedom fighter, 79-year old Zafrullah had caught COVID-19 in May last year.
On Thursday, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said he would have been the first person to take the jab if offered.
“Many of us, the elderly, need the vaccine. We will feel good and it will be easy for us to work once we get the jabs. Our efforts to take the country’s economy forward will become smooth,” said the 73-year-old minister.