It was on June 10 that Diganta Kurmi went to his tea garden hospital to get his first jab of Covid-19 vaccine. This for the second time he went for his first vaccination, as the first attempt at the Koomtai Model Hospital of Golaghat district in Upper Assam was not successful. The officials at the model hospital denied inoculating him as officially he was not 45-year-old yet.
The vaccination was meant for the above 45 years category and as per his Aadhar card, Diganta Kurmi was 44 year and seven months old. For the office chowkidar at Koomtai tea estate, age was just not a figure but a reason for his deep concern in Covid times.
“I could not get the first vaccine for 45 years and above as I am 44 years and seven months old. For the second one for 18 t 44 years, they said that I don’t fit into the category and the system does not upload the details. I have two children and if I am not able to get myself vaccinated then I am vulnerable. The age is not my fault and I believe that for this I should not be in limbo.”
One of the largest tea estates of the State, Koomtai has an approximate population of 17,500 which includes 5,800 employees of the garden. As of November 11, 323 workers have received the first dose of the vaccine while 11 of them have taken their second jab. The garden has 11 positive cases as of June 11, and there has been one Covid-19 related death in the garden so far.
“Kurmi was not given the vaccine as his age on the Aadhar card mentioned that he was above 44 years. The staff kept on saying that the system does not accept his age and they are helpless on this. What shall happen for those in between 44 and 45 years,” says Ananda Chetia, an employee at Koomtai Tea Estate.
The issue was then brought to the notice of the National Health Mission authorities and the concern was also tweeted to the Chief Minister. “44 years 7 months is below 45 years and above 44 years. We tried a lot to convince the team but they said that they will not be able to break the protocol. Some communication gap it seems,” reads the tweet.
The National Health Mission was quick to react to this and informed the garden authorities that District Project Manager Golaghat has assured that Diganta Kurmi will be vaccinated. Diganta did receive a call in this regard and a confirmation of his vaccination soon.
Assam on June 12, received 35,990 doses of Covaxin for the age group 18-44 years. The State so far has inoculated 46,73,233 people of which 37,8,839 received their first jab while 9,04,394 their second dose. Assam has 2,43,460 vaccines in stock for above 45 years and 1,37,440 for 18-44 years as of June 11. The Covid positivity rate of the State is 2.16% and the recovery rate is 88.83%. 29 people lost their battle against the dreaded virus on June 11.
To make vaccination in the tea gardens of Assam where literacy and more so digital knowledge is low, the State government has done away with mandatory registration for tea garden workers. The registration on behalf of the workers are now been done by headmen of a line, manager or the officer-in-charge of vaccination.
Assam has over 850 tea estates, besides there are lakhs of small tea growers. In the organised sector, over 10 lakh people are engaged in the tea estates. The second wave of the pandemic has affected more than half of the tea gardens.