Itanagar, June 9: Free rice in return for a COVID-19 jab, and as much as 20 kg. The prospect turned out to be lucrative enough to dispel rumours around vaccination among villagers of an administrative circle in Arunachal Pradesh, as over 80 of them turned up on foot for the inoculation within days of the announcement of the sop.
The brainchild of Circle Officer Tashi Wangchuk Thongdok of Yazali in Lower Subansiri district, the offer of free rice for those getting vaccinated in the 45-plus age group was launched on Monday and is valid till Wednesday. "We are constantly trying to work out strategies to improve vaccination coverage in the circle and in the district.
"Till today noon, 80 people have come to receive the jabs. Our aim is to achieve 100 per cent inoculation in the circle by June 20," Thongdok, a 2016-batch APCS officer, said. There are 1,399 people above the age of 45 in the Yazali Circle, officials said. Many of those who came to get themselves vaccinated came on foot from far-flung villages, braving inclement weather, Thongdok said.
He said the administration is chalking out a roadmap for taking the vaccination drive to every village of the circle. "We are planning door-to-door visits on Friday and Saturday to administer vaccines to people above 45 years of age. Our offer will continue but the quantity of rice will be 10 kg instead of 20 kg," Thongdok said. Two former students of Vivekananda Kendra Vidyalaya have donated the rice for distribution among the beneficiaries, he added.
Rumours surrounding the COVID-19 immunisation, including severe ailments post inoculation and the possibility of microscopic tracking devices being injected through the serum, have turned many sceptical in the northeast, the officials said. State Immunisation Officer Dimong Padung said a total of 3,95,445 people have been vaccinated so far in the state.