Shillong: The Meghalaya government on Friday started the third phase of COVID-19 vaccination for the 18-44 age group. Long queues were witnessed on the first day of the drive at the five vaccination centres in East Khasi Hills district.

While 150 slots were opened for Civil Hospital in Shillong, 100 slots were up for grabs at Meghalaya Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences (MIMHANS). Similarly, there were 150 slots at Rynjah State Dispensary.

As for paid vaccination, two private hospitals — Nazareth Hospital and Bethany Hospital — had opened their doors for the vaccination drive. They were given 150 and 100 slots, respectively. The vaccines were priced at Rs 500 per dose.

The vaccination drive, which started at 9:30 am, went on till 5 pm.

Some of the residents who came for their first jab on Friday had registered on the CoWIN platform last month when the Centre had announced that the vaccination drive will be opened for the age group of 18-44 years. Others managed to register themselves at 12 pm on Thursday.

EastMojo visited Civil Hospital in Shillong to interact with some of the people who came for their first dose.

Jade Lyngdoh, a student, said although it was easy for him he was concerned about others without proper Internet connection or access to a smartphone or computer.

Also read: Meghalaya: Less than 40% of those above 45 vaccinated, says govt

“For the fortunate ones like us, it was easy to register and for the rest it was difficult,” said Lyngdoh. “Forget rural areas, he said, Shillong itself doesn’t have a good Internet connectivity,” he added.

When asked if he faced any problem at the vaccination centre, Lyngdoh said: “Initially, it wasn’t very smooth, there were several people. But the health workers were later able to control the situation.”

Security officials from the state government were deployed at the centres to avoid any confusion. Strict COVID-19 protocols were followed. From time to time, health officials kept reminding the people to maintain social distancing.

Nandini Dalal, another student, said she was lucky since she logged in to the COWIN portal and was able to get a slot in her first attempt.

Considering himself lucky enough to get a slot on the first day, 20-year-old Azeem said none of his friends got through. He, however, urged everyone to get themselves vaccinated whenever they can.

Not everyone was lucky, though. Meghaleena Bhattacharya, a student of Maharashtra Institute of Technology, was one of those who failed to get a slot but turned up at the centre nevertheless to clear some confusion.

“For the last two weeks, I have been trying to register. But I was not able to do it due to the limited slots. I came here today just to find out from the authorities whether it was possible or not to get the first dose,” said Bhattacharya.

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