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First Register, Then Seek COVID-19 Vaccination

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo. Joe Raedle-Getty Images North America—AFP

Reports of vaccinations being offered for walk-ins are ‘false,’ warn Punjab government officials, noting the confusion is causing delays and overcrowding

Officials of the Punjab government on Sunday sought to dismiss reports circulating on social media platforms that elderly citizens could just walk into the vaccination center established at Lahore’s Expo Center and get inoculated without pre-registration.

Over the weekend, a message went viral on social media in which staff at the Expo Center were cited as claiming that “anyone over 60 can walk-in with an ID card and get vaccinated without waiting for a SMS code” verifying their appointment. The message resulted in a mass of people reaching the center to expedite their immunization, resulting in overcrowding and confusion.

“We process people as per schedule and if everyone starts turning up on their own, it will delay the ones in line,” Punjab Primary and Healthcare Department Secretary Usman Younis said in a posting on Twitter. “Please wait for the message [with the registration code],” he said, adding that the government was striving not to turn anyone away. “We also provide walk-in if one spouse is scheduled and the other isn’t,” he added.

On Saturday, Younis had issued a statement stressing that the vaccine would only be administered to registered persons who had received a pin code via SMS that could be verified at the Expo Center. “Vaccination on the basis of the pin code through proper registration will save both time and resources,” he said, and urged the public to ignore any rumors about the vaccination drive.

He noted that over 7,500 people over 60 had been vaccinated across Punjab already, adding that this was also true of nearly 90,000 healthcare workers.

Pakistan is in the midst of what healthcare officials are describing as a third wave of the novel coronavirus. Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid has claimed this wave is being primarily driven a variant of COVID-19 that was originally identified in the U.K. It is reportedly more infectious and deadlier than the original variant.

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