In an unprecedented move to punish the vaccine-hesitant, the provincial government of Pakistan’s Punjab province has decided to block the SIM cards of every citizen who refuses to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The wildly authoritarian decision was reportedly made at a meeting led by provincial health minister Dr. Yasmin Rashid in Lahore on August 5. The action was largely in response to the Punjab Primary Health Department’s report that the province has failed to achieve its set target for COVID-19 vaccination.
Reports indicate that since the start of the vaccination drive on Feb. 2, approximately 300,000 people have failed to return to receive their second vaccine dose after receiving their first one. (An official with the Pakistan Ministry of National Health Services [NHS] said the second dose of the majority of the
Wuhan Flu coronavirus vaccines is administered after an interval of three weeks, except in the case of the AstraZeneca vaccine, where the second dose is given after a period of 12 weeks.)
This immediately caused me to think: “Maybe they died or got very ill after their first dose and couldn’t — or did not wish to — return for an encore.” But perhaps I am too cynical.
And then I read that the official added, “We are categorizing such people; there is a possibility that some of them might have died before getting their second dose. Another group which has been identified consists of those who contracted COVID-19 after receiving their first dose and then decided not to get the second one. Others might have fallen to the negative propaganda and skipped the vaccination.”