These are in addition to the 2.26 million doses of Pfizer vaccines and 1.5 million single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines previously supplied to Nepal by the United States, the embassy said on June 19.
“This donation also celebrates 75 years of diplomatic relations between the United States and Nepal. The United States’ historic support for Nepal’s health sector reflects the powerful results of our partnership,” the embassy said in a statement.
The United States also pledged to support Nepal’s Health Ministry in training frontline health workers in 56 districts to administer the pediatric Pfizer vaccine.
Dr. Surendra Chaurasia, chief of the logistic management section under Nepal’s Department of Health Services, said the first phase of the vaccination program for children in 27 districts would begin on June 23.
The second phase of the vaccination program will involve the remaining 50 districts.
“We will dispatch the vaccine doses to the provinces and districts as soon as possible,” Chaurasia told reporters, according to The Kathmandu Post.
Nepal’s Health and Population Ministry in February procured about 8.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use in children between five and 11 years old, according to local reports.
This was consistent with the World Health Organization’s recommendation to use the Pfizer vaccine in children above the age of five, though the need for booster doses in children has yet to be confirmed.
The United States also donated 302,400 pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Mongolia through the United Nations-backed COVAX program, bringing the total number of vaccines donated to Mongolia to more than 1.4 million.
In spite of the push by government officials to provide pediatric vaccine doses, there is disagreement in the medical community about whether COVID-19 vaccines should be given to children.
In May, North Carolina Physicians for Freedom (NCPF) warned about the risk of using the vaccines on children, citing that the vaccines were linked to more deaths and adverse events in one year than all other childhood vaccines combined in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System over the past 31 years.
“Even this high number of deaths probably under-reports by a factor of 20 to 44, according to two analyses,” NCPF said in a press release on May 19.
Among adverse reactions that have been reported are myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart that causes the heart muscle to die, as well as blood clots and severe disability affecting the nervous system, NCPF stated.
The physicians’ organization said the risk of heart complications from the vaccines among boys aged 12 to 15 years “is much higher than the risk they might have to be hospitalized because of COVID-19 itself.”
Matt McGregor contributed to this report.