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The Assam Health Department will launch the third phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive covering citizens in the age group of 50 years and above, along with those below 50 years with co-morbidity, from March onwards.
Principal Secretary in charge of the Health and Family Welfare department, Samir Kumar Sinha said the vaccination process for the existing 1.9 lakh healthcare workers and 1.8 lakh frontline workers have been ensured smoothly.
"But the real challenge would be to ensure total coverage of people above 50 years, which is a population of about 90 lakh in the state," Sinha said.
“However, the registration process for the vaccine should become easy through the COWIN portal for all,” Sinha added.
The Health Department is closely monitoring the situation, with fresh cases emerging in a few educational institutions in Assam.
A school in Guwahati and a department in Dibrugarh University have already been declared containment zones after the detection of a few COVID-19 cases over the past couple of days.
“We are planning to achieve 100 per cent coverage of all healthcare workers by February 28, 2021, and start the vaccination process for people above 50 years tentatively by March 1, 2021,” he said.
Sinha further stated that Assam was well-placed to handle the robust COVID-19 vaccine roll-out campaign in the state with over 4,620 sub-centres across the 34 districts, covering 28,000 villages, and an advanced system of maintaining cold chains for storage and distribution of vaccines.
The vaccination drive that began on January 16, 2021, has been able to cover over 1.4 lakh healthcare workers and over 16,000 frontline workers across all districts of Assam.
Two vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin are being provided in Assam, which is administered in an injectable form to the beneficiaries.
Every beneficiary is required to take two doses of the vaccine, 28 days apart, after which antibodies against COVID-19 develop after 14 days of taking the second dose.
Speaking on the cases of Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) with the COVID-19 vaccines, Sinha said, “Till date, only 85 minor cases of AEFI has been reported in the state – 66 AEFI cases after administering the Covishield vaccination and 19 AEFI cases after Covaxin vaccination – which is only about 0.05 per cent of the total vaccinations in Assam.”
No severe or serious cases of AEFI have been reported in the state so far.
“Minor cases of AEFI resulting from COVID-19 vaccination are normal and can be considered as our body’s response to the vaccine. Such minor cases of AEFI have been observed for other vaccines as well,” he stated.
(Edited by Ladiangti Rani)