Kohima: Nagaland Health and Family Welfare Minister S Pangnyu Phom on Monday launched a free COVID-19 vaccination drive for people in the age group of 18- 44 years.

Over seven lakh people, comprising 37 per cent of the state’s population, are in the 18-44 years age bracket.

The state government is already providing vaccines free of cost to frontline workers and those above 45 years.

Launching the drive at the Directorate of Health and Family Welfare here, Phom said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has allotted 36,580 doses of Covishield for which the state made a payment of over Rs 1.15 crore.

“We have placed more orders but the state does not have any control on the supply or the production of vaccines,” he said.

COVID-19 Vaccination Centres (CVC) for the 18-44 years age group have been placed strategically, as per risk assessment, with focus on urban areas, he said.

All districts have been allocated the vaccines as per population and the risk of infection, the minister said.

Booking for next weeks inoculation will be announced soon and all beneficiaries have to register themselves in the CoWIN portal, he said.

Reminding people that COVID-19 is no longer a disease that affects only the elderly or those with comorbidities, the minister said, younger people are also falling prey to the infection, for which immunisation is an effective tool to break the chain of transmission.

Appealing to the citizens to wait for their turn for getting the vaccine, the minister asked them to adhere to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour like mask wearing, frequent handwashing and physical distancing.

Highighting that 2.39 lakh doses have already been administered to the high-risk groups in the state, the minister urged people above 44 years and those with medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension to get themselves vaccinated if they have not yet been inoculated.

Meanwhile, briefing media persons after the programme, State Immunisation Officer Dr Ritu Thurr and Deputy Director HFW Dr G R Rio said that people in the age group of 18-44 years form 37 per cent of the total population of the state.

The government has placed an order for 4 lakh doses of vaccines in this phase, but it would be received in a phased manner, Dr Thurr said.

On reports of health department officials prioritising their family members in the age group of 18-44 years to get vaccinated, he said registration and booking have to be done through the online portal, which is being managed by UNDP and the department does not have any role in it.

On the vaccination drive for the high risk group, which was launched in Nagaland on January 16 along with the rest of the country, Dr Thurr said, major adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) have not been reported in the state.

Currently Nagaland has around 92,000 doses of free vaccines provided by the Central government.

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