Where is the vaccine strategy?
IFP Editorial: Manipur is yet to spell out how it is going to achieve maximum vaccination before assembly elections which are slated to be held on January 27 and March 3.
Updated on 10 Jan 2022, 7:39 pm
About two weeks back, the Union Health Ministry had asked state authorities to beef up vaccination while expressing extreme concern with the low vaccination in the state particularly in the hill areas. Now that the schedule of assembly elections has been announced, the Election Commission of India has instructed the state to accelerate the vaccination process.
In the last few days, positive cases had been rising rapidly in the state after a brief lull signalling the onset of the third wave. The state disaster management authority has also announced newer restrictions in view of the rising cases mostly suspected to be the Omicron variant. The official figure of the Omicron variant now stands at one for the state, while we are awaiting the results of the whole genome sequencing reports which takes about one week.
According to an expert, in view of the recent surge in positive cases almost all positive cases could be taken as of the Omicron variant or that of Omicron and Delta combined. In view of the rapid rise in positive cases, night curfew in the state has been set from 9 pm to 5 am, while shops have been allowed to open from 10 am to 4 pm daily. Earlier, the night curfew was from 9 pm to 4 am. For the first dose the overall percentage of vaccination has slightly increased from 54.08 pc to 57.06 pc, while for the second dose it has moved from 34.93 pc to 43.06 pc.
In the hills, the districts of Kangpokpi, Ukhrul and Senapati are still lagging far behind the other districts with 19.70 pc, 25.08 pc and 32.73 pc respectively while it is 13.23 pc, 18.08 pc and 24.61 pc respectively for the second dose. Kakching and Imphal West have the highest vaccination figures. For the state, the number of doses administered as of Sunday was 13,41,185 for the first dose and 10,07,949 for the second dose. In comparison to the valley districts, the other hill districts except for Churachandpur and Chandel are lagging behind in vaccination.
Now, we are wondering about what the state Health authority is doing to beef up the vaccination process. The Chief Minister’s promise of delivering 100 pc vaccination by Christmas has failed, although Covid Vaccination Express vehicles equipped with necessary equipment and personnel along with vaccines had been pressed into service.
An NGO is directly funding the hiring charges, staff expenses, operational expenses for the Covid Vaccination Express vehicles and staff under their CSR initiative. The Covid Vaccination Express vehicles are travelling in every nook and corner of the districts to vaccinate people at their doorsteps. But, it is not delivering results with regard to rapid vaccination.
Experts are of the opinion that at least 80 per cent of the population needs to be vaccinated for the purpose of conducting elections safely. Yet, the state is yet to spell out how it is going to achieve maximum vaccination before assembly elections which are slated to be held on January 27 and March 3. The state has been extending the services of Dr Rajo as Health Director again and again in view of his ‘experience’ in dealing with the pandemic and also the Additional CS Vumlunmang Vualnam has been charged with the Health department. Perhaps the time has come for the state government to put new people in these critical posts for the purpose of invoking new ideas and innovation in dealing with the pandemic.