GUWAHATI: After health minister Keshab Mahanta tweeted that Assam has 3.65 lakh Covid-19 vaccines in stock, 1.49 lakh for the 45+ and 2.16 lakh for the 18 to 44 year category, the young generation was left confused about the purpose of creating a vaccine bank when the need of the hour was urgent inoculation given the steady rise in the number of cases.
“I have been trying for a slot for the last five-six days but have not got any. I found 200 slots in my location in Guwahati on Sunday but all slots vanished within seconds of clicking on the select button. This is happening with many of my friends,” said Braja Thakuria, a youth, who registered his name on Co-WIN on May 3.
Thousands of people in the 18-44 age group across rural and urban Assam are searching for slots on smartphones. Even more helpless are people from underprivileged backgrounds, who do not have smartphones or are not familiar with Co-WIN. Leading student-youth organizations as well as the Assam chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have raised serious concerns over the population, which still does not have access to digital gadgets to register their names on Co-WIN.
“Healthcare should be universal and the vaccination process should have been simplified. Will the illiterate people be left out of the vaccination drive if they do not register their names in Co-WIN?” wondered Dr Satyajit Borah, president, IMA’s Assam state branch.
The All Assam Students’ Union (Aasu) and the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) have decided to help the needy to register their names on the Co-WIN platform.
Aasu general secretary Sankar Jyoti Baruah said, “There seems to be a large scarcity of vaccines for the 18+ age group. But it was not so for the 45+ category. Despite having several vaccination centres in districts, the 18-44 age group people are being vaccinated only in a few centres, and that too through a complicated process.”
The central leadership of Aasu has already appealed to its district, sub-divisional and local committees to extend support to the 18+ people who have not been able to register themselves and are desperately searching for slots amid an alarming Covid situation that has led the state government to impose new restrictions.
Contrary to the allegations by various groups, a health department spokesperson said that about 10,000 people in the 18+ category are being inoculated everyday in greater Guwahati, while in other districts 2,000-6,000 vaccinations are being done on an average. “There are 260 vaccination centres for the 18+ that are being operated in Assam, whereas for the 45+ category the number varies from 900-1,400, depending on the availability. We are soon going to increase the number of vaccination centres for the 18+ but waiting for a bigger consignment,” said immunization spokesperson and director of health services (family welfare), Assam, Munindra Nath Ngatey.