Shillong: Meghalaya Health Minister AL Hek believes the strategy used by the state health department and the district administration to encourage people to get vaccinated is like “luring a baby to eat their food.”

According to the health minister, since the government has given the power to the Deputy Commissioners to decide on reopening of shops, the DCs are deciding based on their wisdom, he added.

The state government was criticised severely along with East Khasi Hills DC Isawanda Laloo, who stated that only those who have been vaccinated would be allowed to reopen their shops at Iewduh. The DC and the traditional heads had decided that out of the 4,000 shops, 1,222 shops will open based on rotation.

A vaccination drive was also carried out at the Iewduh market on Wednesday and will end on Thursday.

Similarly, the West Khasi Hills had announced a cash reward of Rs 10,000 to those who have been fully vaccinated (1st and 2nd dose). While a few felt that the DC was trying to encourage people to take the vaccine, many felt that it was a wrong way to lure the citizens.

Hek said that the department or the authorities are not forcing anyone, but just making an appeal. “We have to apply different kinds of strategies to appeal to the people to take the vaccine. We have left it to the wisdom of the DC to use their wisdom to encourage people to take the vaccine. If they (DC) had used wrong steps we would have not agreed to it, but they are doing a good job,” mentioned Hek.

When asked if luring people using money doesn’t amount to blackmailing, Hek said, “We have seen advertisements about using toys to lure the baby to eat, similarly, it is a strategy that we are seeing here.”

Hek added that they have been carrying out awareness programs, songs in the local language have been posted in the public domain. They are also taking the help of church leaders, and traditional heads have been done. He added that people should look at it positively since they only want to ensure that people’s lives are safe and protected.

The health department has been using social media to reach out to people and educate them about the effects of the virus. The department believes that many people even in rural areas have a smartphone so they are using Youtube to create awareness.

To date, the vaccination achievement for the general public based on eligible age stands at 3,16,813 for the first dose 28,399 for the second dose.

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