Wait over, vaccine arrives in Meghalaya

SHILLONG/GUWAHATI, Jan 12: The wait for a COVID-19 vaccine is finally over!
After almost a year of agony and pain, 35,000 doses of Covishield vaccine have reached the state from Pune on Tuesday evening.
State Immunisation Officer, Dr P Manners, received the first slot of vaccines which have been stored at the vaccination centre at Pasteur Institute, Shillong.
Health and Family Welfare Minister, AL Hek, on Tuesday confirmed that in the first phase, which is scheduled for January 16, 16,000 health workers will receive the first jabs to be followed by a second round of shots in a few days.
“We have made all arrangements to ensure that the vaccines are rolled out from January 16,” Hek said.
Each of the health workers will be given two doses.
Health workers in East Khasi Hills and West Garo Hills are set to be vaccinated first.
Earlier, the first batch of the vaccine arrived in the North East by a Kolkata-Guwahati cargo flight, touching down on the tarmac of the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport at Borjhar here on Tuesday evening.
Airports Authority of India (AAI) sources informed that 20 boxes of the vaccine, each containing 12,000 doses, were brought here from Pune via Kolkata by SpiceJet (SG 7715) freighter aircraft which landed at 4.58pm.
“Twenty boxes (weighing 730 kg) containing close to 2,40,000 doses of the vaccine were ferried by the freighter aircraft to the LGBI Airport, of which 17 are for Assam and three for Meghalaya,” an AAI source informed The Shillong Times.
The cargo boxes were received by the AAI cargo wing, Airports Authority of India Cargo Logistics and Allied Services Company Ltd (AAICLAS), at the domestic cargo complex of the airport.
The boxes were subsequently handed over to the respective state health departments for distribution.
The Serum Institute of India (SII), Pune, had early Tuesday morning dispatched the first consignment of the Covishield vaccine for distribution across various locations in the country.
Reportedly, eight flights were scheduled to dispatch the Covishield vaccines from Pune International Airport to 13 different locations.
Speaking to reporters here, M Suresh, regional executive director, AAI, Northeast region, said, “We are very much equipped to transport the COVID vaccines to different parts of the North East”.
“The LGBI Airport has been marked as the nodal point of distribution of the vaccine for the North East, and we will fully cooperate with the agencies in its timely distribution through air cargo,” Suresh said.
The cargo complex at the airport has made all possible arrangements for smooth dispersal of vaccines across destinations: cold storages, dedicated pick-up points, help desks, exchange points, entry-exit and sanitisation areas are some of them.
“Our cargo wing at Guwahati has geared up infrastructure and has marked pick-up points for effective and smooth flow of the consignment,” he added.
LGBI Airport director, Ramesh Kumar, said the arrival of the first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine at the airport was a proud moment for AAI Guwahati.
“It is always a pleasure to be a part of such an important task for the country. We are hopeful that AAI, in coordination with our stakeholders and partners, will effectively deliver the vaccines to all state governments,” Kumar said.
Task force prepares ground
In following the guidelines of the Centre and as part of the preparatory phase, the District Task force of West Garo Hills has held a review meeting in Tura on Tuesday to get a briefing about the upcoming vaccination drive from January 16, our Tura correspondent adds.
Speaking during the meeting, West Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner, Ram Singh, informed that the vaccine will be given to the healthcare and frontline workers in the first phase and on priority basis to those above 50 years of age and under 50 years with co-morbidities in the third and fourth phase of vaccination at the identified session sites.  Meanwhile, the DMCHO, Tura, Dr Ivonne M Sangma, presented an overview of the vaccination exercise and other preparatory measures as well as guidelines needed to be followed as provided by the Centre. Further, she also mentioned that the progress of registration of beneficiaries should be monitored, and ensure timely completion of training including setting up of vaccination sites with three separate rooms for waiting, vaccination and observation.
Moreover, she also informed about the requirements of vaccination room adding that AD syringes will be in use, adding that hand sanitisers, mask and social distancing need to be followed during the time of vaccination and observation.

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