Twelve leading doctors of Assam are among the health workers who will be administered COVID-19 vaccine from the first vial on Saturday morning as part of the country-wide vaccination drive, state Health and Family Welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said. The exercise will begin in 65 sites in 33 districts across the state after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launches the pan-India roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination drive via video conferencing, the minister told a press conference here.
In the state, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal will inaugurate the drive at Assam Medical College Hospital, Dibrugarh and the health minister at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital here. An estimated 6,500 people of the 1.9 lakh health workers, designated as COVID warriors, will be vaccinated on the first day, Sarma said.
“Taking the vaccine is entirely voluntary but considering the challenges being faced by the medical fraternity, it is imperative that health workers take it as they are directly dealing with coronavirus patients and are at high risk," the minister told journalists at a press conference here. Former vice chancellor of Srimanta Sankardeva University of Health Sciences Dr Umesh Chandra Sarma will be the first to receive the initial dose, he said.
The other doctors to be vaccinated are Padma Shri awardee and surgeon Dr Ilias Ali, Sahitya Akademi awardee and former principal of Barpeta Medical College and Hospital Dr Dhrubajyoti Borah, GMCH principal Dr Achyut Baishya and its superintendent Dr Abhijeet Sharma. An observation room has been set up at the vaccination sites for monitoring the condition of those who will be vaccinated, for at least half an hour for side-effects, if any.
Assam has received 2,21,500 doses of vaccine so far, including 2,01,500 Covishield and 20,000 Covaxin, Sarma said. As many as 2.9 lakh people of the northeastern state have registered in the CoWIN portal so far. Covishield vaccine will be administered in 59 sites and Covaxin in six sites.
In the first phase, 1.9 lakh health workers of both government and private health facilities, comprising doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, ambulance drivers and cleaners will be included and this will take around eight weeks. Altogether 100 persons will be inoculated at each of the vaccination sites.
The second stage will cover one lakh frontline workers, including police, army and paramilitary forces. In the third phase, all persons above the age of 50 will be vaccinated and in the next phase, people below the age of 50 but with comorbidities will be included but for these categories, the guidelines will be announced by the Centre later, the minister said.
Tentatively around one crore people in the state will be covered in these phases, Sarma said. The second dose of the vaccine will be administered after 28 days of the first and after that there will be a waiting period of 14 days, following which the person will attain immunity.
Sarma said, there will be no immunity after the first dose and a person may test positive during this period even after taking the vaccine. The minister claimed that the COVID-19 situation in Assam was now under control and the number of new cases detected daily has been less than 50 since December 31.
Sarma mentioned that COVID-19 will be there at the community level, though not as a pandemic, as mutant strains have been detected in other countries.