Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Feb 22: The State health department is aiming to cover nearly 60 lakh population under the COVID-19 vaccination drive for people above 50 years of age, senior officials of the department announced here on Monday.

The health department is planning to roll out the drive from the first week of March, which will be followed by an extensive mass awareness campaign in every nook and corner of the State. Like health and frontline workers, the department will also use both Covaxin and Covishield vaccines in case of people over 50 years of age.

Addressing a media orientation programme on COVID-19 vaccination at the office of National Health Mission here, Principal Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department Samir Kumar Sinha said that people who are above 50 would have to register their names through the Co-WIN portal to get vaccinated.

“Administering vaccine to such a huge population is a challenging task for us. But we have made all arrangements. This section of population is totally unorganised, so we are emphasising creation of mass awareness so that everyone above 50 years of age comes forward to take the vaccine. The department will also make adequate arrangements at every vaccination centre to tackle the situation if anyone develops any side-effects of the vaccine,” Sinha said.

Answering a question on any arrangement to vaccinate elderly persons who are not in a condition to come to the nearest vaccination centre, senior officials of the department during the orientation programme made it clear that it is not possible to carry out house-to-house vaccination drive in the State.

“We will provide logistic support in need to bring a person to the nearby vaccination centre. But it is not possible to administer the vaccine at home as house-to-house transportation of the vaccine storage is not possible. Moreover, after vaccination a person will have to stay under observation for at least half an hour. This factor will also pose as a difficulty in carrying out house-to-house vaccination,” a senior official said.

Meanwhile, Sinha asserted that although COVID-19 positive cases have been showing a declining trend in the State, there should not be any compromise in following the “COVID appropriate behaviour” as the danger is still not over.