Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s target of achieving 100 per cent vaccination in the state by Christmas is ambitious by any standard, but the zeal and endeavour should be appreciated by all. Months ago, he had given the responsibility of ensuring vaccination of all eligible persons to the local MLAs in their respective constituencies and peoples’ representatives of all hues down to the grassroots level were seen getting involved in encouraging people to get themselves vaccinated. The chief minister has announced a cash award of Rs 20 lakh for the first assembly constituency to be fully vaccinated. Jiribam got the honours in August this year. Such encouragement is also needed. The chief minister is now seeking the help of the Church, civil society organisations and village chiefs in an effort to achieve the set target. Well, it is necessary to involve religious leaders of all faiths in clearing up the misgivings and preach vaccination.
One has to understand that a full-scale vaccination effort is more prudent if we have to fight back the pandemic, as well as preparing for a possible third wave. The Centre has taken care of procuring the vaccines and people are getting it free with the state rolling out its full machinery and health infrastructure to avail vaccine services in every constituency. We agree that rumours are going around and some people are using social media to post their hesitancy and reluctance which might be due to either sheer ignorance or the deaths after vaccination and the adverse effects. Somehow, we must also learn to respect the misgivings or concerns of certain people amongst us, while trying our utmost to convince them that full vaccination is the safest mode of protection against the ravages of Covid-19 as it enters the body.
Even the Prime Minister had recently shown his grave concern about the lagging vaccination rate in the hill districts of the state. The vaccination rates in the hill districts are much lower as compared to the valley districts and national average. While the overall average vaccination of the first dose is 53.74 pc and of the second dose 33.42 pc for the state, the average vaccination percentage in some of the hill districts ranges from 17 pc to 35 pc for the first dose. The percentage is even less for the second dose. For the state, the number of doses administered as on Thursday was 12,58,004 for the first dose and 7,82,291 for the second dose. In such a scenario, we need the help and cooperation of everyone to be able to achieve the target. Why only CSOs? There is no dearth of NGOs working in many fields including the health sector in the state.
CARE India has provided 120 vehicles and staff for the Covid Vaccination Express under their CSR initiative. The NGO will directly fund the hiring charges, staff expenses, operational expenses for the Covid Vaccination Express vehicles and staff. The Covid Vaccination Express vehicles are equipped with necessary equipment, vaccines and medical personnel who will travel to every nook and corner of the districts to vaccinate people at their doorsteps. Well and good. On the other hand, the initiative of Imphal West district administration to conduct assembly wise combing operation on Covid-19 vaccination for 13 assembly constituencies under its administrative control involving all stakeholders including local clubs is to be appreciated. It will ensure that no eligible person is left out of the vaccination drive.