Congress is worried that if an alternate mode is not given to them, a huge population may lag behind in the inoculation drive. Health officials told TOI that out of the estimated 3.51 crore population in Assam, 1.78 crore people are being targeted for vaccination in the 18+ and 45+ categories.
Kaliabor MP and deputy leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha, Gaurav Gogoi, in a letter to Sarma, rued that Assam is among the poorest performing states in the country. He said mandatory registration on CoWin as a pre-requisite for vaccination of the 18-44 age group has been a pertinent concern. “I urge you to make adequate enabling provisions for workers and labourers, who may not have access to the internet, therefore impairing their ability to get vaccinated. It is crucial to be accommodating of the vulnerable population and ensuring that the vaccination drive in the state of Assam is effective, expeditious and inclusive,” Gaurav wrote in his letter.
In the last few days, 80,000-90,000 vaccination per day has been done in the state. Till Thursday afternoon, over 32.7 lakh lakh doses have been administered across the state. However, the population covered will be lesser, as many of these shots were second doses injected in the same beneficiary.
As total vaccines administered in a day is not crossing the one lakh mark in the last few days, he raised concern over the number of new Covid cases which are touching new highs in the state. “According to figures calculated by Professor Shamika Ravi, former member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, Assam has vaccinated a mere 2.71% of its eligible population (18+ years) as on May 7, 2021,” he stated in the letter. The Lok Sabha MP alleged that the vaccination drive in Assam has been aggravated by vaccine wastage. Citing Centre’s figures, he added that according to the Union ministry of health and family welfare, Assam recorded an “alarming” 7.70% wastage of vaccines, making it one of the top three states reporting maximum vaccine wastage as on May 6. “The state also reported cases of misuse and out-of-turn vaccinations for ineligible people. Moreover, lack of clear guidelines for the population aged 18-45 years and private hospitals granting appointments without actually procuring vaccination doses led to widespread confusion among people,” said Gaurav. He made apprehension that at this pace, vaccinating the entire population of the state appears to be a distant goal and necessitates improved planning. “In light of the perturbing management of vaccination in Assam, I urge the ministry to declare its targets and deadlines for vaccinating the entire eligible population of Assam,” he said, seeking to understand the ministry’s stance on vaccinating in phases and whether it plans to prioritise the at-risk and vulnerable population.