While vaccination came to a grinding halt in many districts of Assam a couple of days ago, not even a single vaccination centre was operational in Goalpara and Biswanath on Tuesday — two of the seven districts under complete containment. The inoculation drive in other vulnerable districts may be suspended soon, if the state does not receive vaccine consignments in the next couple of days. In Golaghat and Sonitpur districts, which were in top of the district tally of highest cases in the past 10 days, only 21 and 33 vaccination centres were operational till Tuesday afternoon.
But rest of the vulnerable districts too has been struggling to meet the vaccination demand. In Jorhat, only seven session sites were operational, whereas in Lakhimpur and Morigaon, four and one session sites were functional. Among other districts, Bongaigaon also could not operate any centre during the day.
“There is absolutely no stock of Covishield in our district since Monday. Very few beneficiaries are getting the second dose with the limited Covaxin stock reserved for them,” said Dr P.K. Bharali, district immunization officer, Goalpara.
Goalpara is among the districts which received a huge response to the inoculation drive when it was launched on June 21. The capacity is to inoculate 15,000 to 20,000 people per day through 105 session sites created in the district. But people had to be turned away. Bharali said out of the 7.02 lakh 18+ population in the district, about one lakh people have been vaccinated till date. “If the third wave hits the state amid this acute vaccine shortage, not only children but adults will also have to face a big risk of infection,” he said.
Officials said the state government’s emphasis was to provide more vaccines to the districts from where most cases have been reported. However, owing to the vaccine crisis, even the worst-affected Sonitpur district had to slash vaccination sites by around 70 per cent. More than 100 sites were operational at the beginning of the mega drive in Sonitpur last month. Over 8 lakh population in Sonitpur are 18+, though only three lakh have been vaccinated till date.
“Vaccination is the only way to protect the people from the virus. But even now, many elderly people are hesitant as are some daily-wage earners,” said district immunization officer, Sonitpur, Dr Biman Sarma.
According to the schedule with the state immunization office, the next consignment of Covid vaccines is likely to arrive on July 12. Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said meanwhile, health staff should prioritize vaccination for the children for other diseases. “The conventional immunization for the children should not take a backseat during Covid. Otherwise, children will be prone to other diseases. Till Covid vaccine becomes available, more manpower should be engaged for immunization of children in the next one week,” Sarma said.
About 77.10 lakh doses have been administered in Assam, though the 18+ population to be inoculated is more than two crore.