Tajikistan on Saturday became the first country in the world to “mandate” the coronavirus vaccination for all its citizens aged 18 and above. The sweeping mandate was announced by Tajikistan’s Republican Headquarters for Strengthening Anti-Epidemic Measures against COVID-19 in an official statement on July 3. Officials at the anti-coronavirus task force urged all the adults in the country to visit the nearby vaccination centers and get jabbed against the COVID-19 as a part of the mandatory rule to combat the spread of the newly emerging delta variant.
“According to the decision [of the commission], vaccination against coronavirus is mandatory for citizens over 18 years of age,” the brief statement read, as cited by BNO news service. “People who have not been vaccinated against coronavirus infection should consult a family doctor or local health facility,” it further stated.
In January, earlier this year, the Tajik President Emomali Rahmon had declared the central Asian country “COVID-19 free” in a packed parliament where officials were seen adhering to the mask rule, although no social distancing was observed. “Tajikistan today is without COVID-19,” country’s leader had proudly announced, attracting flak from the regional observers and experts, Critics widely criticised the announcement, which they believed, was a conscious move to project [Rahmon’s] government as perpetually ‘strong’ and confident leadership that had gotten the pandemic “under control.”
Despite the claims of “victory” over the coronavirus pandemic, the country reported fresh onslaught of outbreaks with a significant spike in the rate of hospitalisation by end of May, medics told Eurasianet. In the northern Sughd region, head physician at a local hospital Abumavlon Abdullozoda told the on-ground reporters that the hospitals were largely relying on the signs of ground-glass opacity in the patients’ lungs on MRI scan to detect the coronavirus infection, as most patients got a negative PCR test despite symptoms.
The doctor also revealed that a Yemini national that returned from the overseas and was asked to go under quarantine at a hotel did not have his positive diagnosis reflect on the Health Ministry’s COVID-19 data. Country’s RFE/RL’s Tajik service, Radioi Ozodi announced late May that the medic was fired by the health ministry.
In an efforts to curb the rising infections, Tajikistan procured 192,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccines via the COVAX Facility. It was the first jabs shipment to arrive in the Central Asia and the second such shipment to the WHO European Region. Tajikistan kicked start its vaccination campaign in a historic step towards COVAX’s goal of ensuring equitable distribution of at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021, according to UNICEF.