Overseas Pakistani workers stand in a queue to register before receiving a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a centre in Islamabad on Monday. AFP
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Pakistanis, who want to go abroad, are in trouble because of shortage of AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine doses. A number of such workers have been visiting coronavirus vaccination centres in the Pakistan’s capital Islamabad for three weeks to get vaccinated, but in vain. The overseas Pakistani workers have also protested against the government and demanded AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines.
Overseas Pakistani workers stand in a queue to register before receiving a dose of the Pfizer vaccine in Islamabad. AFP
"There was a huge crowd and they broke down the glass doors of the vaccine centre, because they were worried the vaccine would run out," an expat, who came from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told media persons. "The Riyadh government says they only accept AstraZenca or Pfizer vaccines,” said the desperate worker, who has a job in an eatry in Saudi Arabia.
He and four of his close friends travelled from the Khyber Pakhtunkwa province to the federal capital hoping to get the AstraZeneca vaccine and finally return to Saudi Arabia and join their jobs.
They have been stuck in the country for the last 9 months after the Saudi government told foreign workers to leave late last year.
Most of the Gulf Cooperation countries, however, require incoming workers to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca or Pfizer brands, which are in short supply in Pakistan. And the Saudi government has only approved the AstraZeneca or Pfizer jabs. Anyone who wants to fly to Saudi Arabia without AstraZencea or Pfizer shots is required to quarantine at his own expense. However, the expat workers say they cannot afford the cost of the quarantine.
Recently, the Punjab health department informed the citizens that the vaccine would be shortly available. Officials said the process of vaccinating the general public was underway, but the AstraZeneca vaccine and Sputnik V would be available next month for the people desirous of proceeding abroad.
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