Meghalaya’s vax rate touches 45 percent; hit by hesitancy hurdle
Meghalaya Health Minister Prestone Tynsong on Saturday informed that the vaccination rate in the state has reached 45 percent as of August 7.
Stating that the government is keeping no stone unturned to take the vaccination drive to the interior parts of Meghalaya, Tynsong said that health workers are conducting village-to-village visits to make people aware of the vaccine’s efficacy and get themselves jabbed. As of August 7, the total doses of vaccine administered stand at 11,58,280, of which first dose coverage stands at 9,32,040 and second at 2,26,240, he informed.
"Right from the PHC (Public Health Centre) to the sub-centre level, teams of doctors and nurses are paying frequent visits to the villages. On their first visit, the health officials conduct workshops/seminars to remove the fear psychosis about the vaccine with the help of local representatives and village heads," Tynsong said.
Crediting the doctors and health workers for the slight improvement in vaccination coverage, the minister said, "It's an ongoing process and the health workers are visiting the villages not less than 4-5 times. That's why the vaccination rate in the state is 45 percent. Without their effort, the coverage would have been about 20 percent." Tynsong added that all-out efforts are being put in by health workers to ensure people get themselves jabbed.
Meanwhile, Principal Health Secretary Sampath Kumar said that the government is doing door-to-door testing but the rate of vaccination hasn’t soared. "We need to set up session sites to observe the beneficiaries for 30 minutes after vaccination and at the same time, door-to-door awareness campaigns should be launched to remove fear and clear doubts regarding the issue. It is an intensive effort," Kumar said.
Here it is imperative to mention that several factors are leading to a high vaccination hesitancy in the state, amongst which, religious resistance is the most common one. Kumar added that the government has formed a consultative committee headed by the chief secretary to counsel religious leaders about the benefits of the vaccine. "We appeal to members of the respective churches to come forward and voluntarily get vaccinated. In some areas, we have seen a few pastors and fathers doing that," Tynsong added.
When asked about any possible lockdown in the future, Tynsong replied in the negative. "We don't want to go back to lockdown; that's why we keep insisting that people should get vaccinated. The vaccination is free of cost and, centres are being set up in every village so that people don’t have to travel. This is the only way we can fight Covid-19," the minister said.
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