GUWAHATI: Vaccination for the 18+ category is becoming more challenging due to less stock of the doses in the state.
As of Sunday morning, the total quantity of vaccines available in the state was 4.42 lakh. But despite the fact that young population (18-44 years) is more than two-fold of the elderly population (45+) in the state, less than 40% of the total doses, including Covaxin and Covishield, were in stock for the 18+ category.
Statistics made available by the state immunization office stated that out of the 4.42 lakh doses available in the state, 2.73 lakh were for the 45+ category, whereas the remaining 1.68 lakh doses were for the 18-44 age group.
“I was helpless and had to choose Mangaldoi, which is about 80 km from my residence at Bamunimaidam in Guwahati. Since Day 1, I tried to book the slot but it was not available anywhere even in two neighbouring districts, Kamrup and Morigaon,” said young activist Nirangkush Nath, who finally got the first jab last week. He has his ailing mother-in-law at home and was desperately searching for the vaccine for the last couple of weeks. “After 4 pm, one has to keep gazing at the smartphone screen for hours. Anytime, Co-WIN can offer a few slots to a lucky few,” said Nirangkush.
Despite all efforts to procure vaccines, the inoculation drive has slowed down in Assam. The demand is huge and the government has stopped the supply of vaccines to private hospitals since April 30. Against a target of one lakh vaccination every day, the state health department has been able to accomplish only half of the target due to vaccine shortage, admitted chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday. There was a stock of 4.10 lakh doses with the state government on Sunday evening, but the health department is moving ahead steadily, preserving the doses that will be needed to inoculate beneficiaries with the indispensable second jab.
“We are facing a shortage of vaccines which will persist for some time. But the state government is making best efforts to ramp up daily vaccination, from 50,000 beneficiaries daily to one lakh,” Sarma said on Sunday.
As per Co-WIN portal data on Saturday night, 29.36 lakh people got the first jab in the state, whereas 7.77 lakh received the second shot. A total 37.13 lakh doses has been administered in Assam covering the 18+ and 45+ population, even as a large chunk of the population is yet to be brought under the vaccination drive. Thousands of people in the 18-44 age group, especially people living in rural areas, hilly terrain and the riverine belt, where health infrastructure and communication is still lagging behind, haven’t been able to even register on Co-WIN portal. According to the state immunization office, there is an estimated population of 1.8 crore who are between 18-44 years of age, whereas the population of 45+ category is around 70 lakh.