Uneven vaccination numbers since June 21 were mostly due to ‘irregular supply’ of vaccines, health department sources said. The state government accelerated the vaccination drive on a mission mode on June 21, only after Centre’s assurance to provide ample vaccines if Assam achieves the three-lakh target on first three days of the mega campaign. But the target has been revised now by the health department, in absence of three-lakh vaccine stock.
“There are 1.5 lakh vaccine doses in stock in various districts and this quantity is for inculcating the 18+ beneficiaries on Friday. At the moment, we don’t have vaccine in hand for Saturday,” a senior health official said on Thursday evening.
There was great enthusiasm among the public on first day of the mega vaccination campaign on June 21, as the state joined the countrywide ‘Free Vaccination for All’ campaign.
Even as massive 3.74 lakh people got the jab on June 21, the next day, the numbers reduced to 2.53 lakh. Health minister Keshab Mahanta on Thursday said that the due to slowdown in vaccine supply, the target could not be achieved on June 22. He, however, expressed satisfaction that on an average, more than 3.25 lakh vaccination has been given in three days since the beginning of the exercise. On Wednesday (June 23), 3.61 lakh doses were administered and this was much more than the set target of three lakh.
But the spirit of the health officials and the public was dampened on Thursday when this goal was reduced to mere 1.66 lakh. This target is likely to be achieved by late evening, as 1.33 lakh doses were already administered till 5 pm on Thursday. No one knows what’s on the cards for the next couple of days.
Mahanta, however, said, “There is over two crore people above 18 years in the state and we have formulated an strategy to vaccinate around four lakh beneficiaries daily. In Assam, we have administered 63.92 lakh doses since inception. But all will depend on the vaccine supply from the Centre before we fix a date for total vaccination of all citizens.”
He admitted that in order to continue achieving three to four lakh vaccination every day, ‘normal supply’ of vaccine doses is not enough. “Nowadays, vaccine is being supplied by the Union government. Chief minister and we, from the health department, has already requested Centre to ensure more vaccine as a special supply to achieve the goal,” Mahanta added.
Nevertheless, he said that in next 45 days, the government is in a position to inoculate the remaining 1.5 crore 18+ population in the state. “About 1.5 lakh vaccines will come everyday. So we may continue with 1.5 lakh to two lakh inoculation everyday with the normal vaccine supply. But without special supply, three lakh target is not possible,” Mahanta said.
Amid reports of Covaxin shortage in parts of the state, he said that as per district-wise requirement, the vaccine is being procured. “Those beneficiaries who are waiting for the second shot with Covaxin, need not worry,” Mahanta assured.