Some of those eligible doubt efficacy of vax
Shillong: Prioritising vaccination for the age group 40-44 has left people above 18 with fewer Covid-19 vaccines.
Asha Khongshei, a nurse at Meghalaya’s Rynjah primary health centre, informed The Observer: “We have had 18+ citizens who came to enquire about the vaccine. They are mostly the ones who have finished registering themselves online for the Covid vaccine, but we have had to send them away as the PHC is only vaccinating people above 45.”
They are waiting for the deputy commissioner’s approval to vaccinate people above 18. “We get about 200 people who come to take the vaccine. Currently, we are not facing any drastic shortage of vaccine.”
The PHC has faced the challenge of convincing people that the vaccine is safe. It has set up vaccination sites in residential areas.
As initially planned by the state health department, citizens above 18 years of age cannot go to any health centre for vaccination; they are only allowed to get vaccinated in their residential areas to decrease the pressure on the health centres.
Iakmen Umwi, a lower division assistant at the Rynjah PHC, said: “People above 18 who are essential commodities shopkeepers are vaccinated as they are vulnerable to the virus.”
Sampath Kumar, principal secretary, health and family welfare department, said: “In Meghalaya, vaccination for the 18-44 age group will not begin on May 1. The date will be announced in due course.”
The third phase of the immunization campaign, which began on May 1, will entail 30 lakh doses of vaccines, according to state health minister Alexander Laloo Hek. “We have written to the Centre demanding Rs 120 crore in financial assistance to finish the inoculation campaign for people aged 18 to 44 years and effectively handle the raging second wave of Covid-19.”
Although many want to get vaccinated, a few doubt the efficiency of the vaccine.
Jhansi D. Marak, a 23-year-old student, said: “I am sceptical of taking the Covid vaccine. Hence, I have not registered for it. Also, because the government has not given any clarity on when we can get vaccinated, I have not felt the importance of registering as yet. Given the economic state of the government, it seems reasonable to wait for the vaccine. From what have I heard, we are short of vaccines. Older people have not been given the second dose. I guess we will have to maintain protocols and be patient as cases are rising faster than last year.”
Students who are planning to study abroad are in a hurry to get vaccinated as some international institutions have made Covid vaccination mandatory to attend classes.
Meghalaya’s Covid-19 response team has been addressing queries regarding vaccination of the 18+ age group on Twitter. They are mostly asked questions about registration for vaccination. One common query is whether registration done in the first week of May is still.
The team announced on Twitter on May 6 that vaccination for people in the 18-44 age group would begin in the days ahead. But only until vaccines are fully stocked is a mass rollout feasible. The vaccine will be given free of charge by the state government at all government vaccination centres for this age group. The government has requested people to register and patiently await their turn.