The third phase of the process will focus on people over 50 years of age said Samir Kumar Sinha, IAS, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Government of Assam

Guwahati: Ahead of the Assam Assembly Elections 2021, the state has set March 1, 2021, as the tentative date for the vaccination process for people over 50.

With over 4,620 sub-centres across the 34 districts and an advanced system of maintaining a cold chain for storage and distribution of vaccines, Assam is in a well-suited to handle the robust COVID-19 vaccine roll-out campaign in the state, said Samir Kumar Sinha, IAS, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Government of Assam, in a state-level media briefing held in the capital on Tuesday.

The vaccination drive that began on January 16 has covered over 1.4 lakh healthcare workers and over 16,000 frontline workers across all districts of Assam.

The Directorate of Health Services (Family Welfare) and National Health Mission, Assam in collaboration with UNICEF India, on the COVID-19 vaccine campaign in Assam organised a state-level meeting.

Addressing the issue of eagerness, Samir Kumar Sinha, IAS, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Government of Assam explained the rationale for vaccinating prioritised groups. “The Government of India has undertaken a phased-wise approach for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. After the healthcare and frontline workers, the third phase of the process will focus on people over 50 years of age, and then those below 50 years with existing co-morbidities.”

He also mentioned that Assam planned to achieve 100 per cent coverage of all healthcare workers by February 28 and begin the vaccination process for people over 50 years tentatively by March 1.

“While the vaccination process for the existing 1.9 lakh healthcare workers and 1.8 lakh frontline workers have been ensured smoothly, the real challenge will be to ensure total coverage of people above 50 years, which stands at around 90 lakh population in the state. However, the registration process for the vaccine should become easy through the COWIN portal for all,” he said.

Two vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin are being provided in Assam, which is administered in an injectable form to the beneficiaries. Every beneficiary is required to take two doses of the vaccine, 28 days apart, after which antibodies against COVID-19 develop after 14 days of taking the second dose.

Speaking on the cases of Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) with the COVID-19 vaccines, Samir Kumar Sinha, IAS, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Government of Assam stated, “Till date, only 85 minor cases of AEFI has been reported in the state – 66 AEFI cases after administering the Covishield vaccination and 19 AEFI cases after Covaxin vaccination – which is only about 0.05 per cent of the total vaccinations in Assam. Assam has not witnessed any severe nor serious cases of AEFI reported.” Minor cases of AEFI resulting from COVID-19 vaccination is normal and can be considered as our body’s response to the vaccine. Such minor cases of AEFI have been observed for other vaccines as well.

Speaking on the role of media in the COVID-19 vaccine campaign, he said, “The media in Assam has to play an important role in the COVID-19 vaccination process. It can address the public hesitancy and boost confidence among people, which will help achieve 100 per cent coverage among priority groups.” He requested remaining healthcare and frontline workers to come forward to get vaccinated, so that they can carry on with their duties in days to come.

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