Assam intensifies vaccination drives in hill districts
Health dept to cover state’s eligible population by Jan 2022
GUWAHATI, Dec 13: The Assam health department is zeroing in on the unvaccinated people in the hill districts of the state to speed up inoculation as it plans to bring the eligible people under the ambit of COVID-19 vaccination by January 20, 2022.
As it is, extra manpower and vehicles are being engaged to reach the last mile in some areas of hill districts such as Karbi Anglong where remoteness is an issue apart from lactating and pregnant mothers, a section of vaccine-resistant and elderly people who still have not been administered the first dose.
“While the plains are more or less covered, there is a population (within 80,000) in Karbi Anglong, including West Karbi Anglong district, which are yet to be vaccinated. The other hill district, Dima Hasao, has a relatively lower population uncovered by vaccination campaigns,” a health official said.
“Therefore, we are trying to intensify the inoculation drive in these hill districts where vaccine hesitancy is relatively higher. Once, they are covered, we would be able to bring a total population of 2.28 crore in the state under the vaccination ambit,” he said.
Assam health minister Keshab Mahanta on Monday chaired a meeting with the Karbi Anglong district administration in Diphu to review the vaccination status and to ensure that all eligible people are inoculated under the “Har Ghar Dastak” campaign.
Mahanta also deliberated on ramping up measures to ensure all those unvaccinated in the hill district receive their first dose. He also took updates from the principal and superintendent of Diphu Medical College about the overall COVID-19 situation and the facilities at the hospital.
By the end of the first week of December, the health teams have administered 3.43 crore doses in the state, of which 2.15 crore are first doses while 1.28 crore are second doses.
Certain rural areas in some of the autonomous councils having a dominant Christian population had witnessed relatively higher vaccine hesitancy among the residents.
Earlier, the National Health Mission, Assam, had asked the principal secretaries of the Bodoland Territorial Council, Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and Dima Hasao Autonomous Council to even engage local religious leaders to make people understand the significance of the vaccine amid the pandemic and overcome resistance to inoculation.
Subsequently, the health minister, chief secretary and several other senior health department officials also convened a meeting with Christian community leaders from Kamrup (Metro), Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong, Kokrajhar, Goalpara, Sonitpur and Udalguri districts to address the issue of vaccination hesitancy in some areas that are predominantly tribal inhabited.