Mass vaccination for high-risk groups begins at 44 centres across Srinagar

Tour trade members, shopkeepers, drivers, vendors among those vaccinated
Mass vaccination for high-risk groups begins at 44 centres across Srinagar
A female health worker administers a jab to a local at Sher-i-Kashmir Park in Srinagar on Tuesday, 25 May 2021. [Aman Farooq for Greater Kashmir]

In an endeavour to vaccinate the more vulnerable sections of the population in the summer capital, a mass vaccination drive began across Srinagar on Wednesday. Right since morning, people in large numbers had queued-up for getting a jab at various vaccination centres set up by administration.

As a part of the vaccination drive,  district administration had identified target persons between 18 and 45 age group. An official said that high risk groups like shopkeepers, drivers, shikarawalas, vendors, barbers, faculty staff from educational institutions, people with disabilities and others have been prioritised to be vaccinated in the mass drive.

"It is quite important to have these high risk sections of the population vaccinated as they are highly exposed to the virus on a daily basis. Their vaccination can be seen as a vital step as these are persons who are at the forefront," the official said.

The administration had set up 44 vaccination camps at different locations across Srinagar. People from the target groups were seen waiting for their turn to get vaccinated.

Mukhtar Ahmed, ward officer and in charge for vaccination at Nishat Health centre said that there was a good response to the mass vaccination drive. He said people from different walks of life arrived at the center right since  early morning.

"We tried every way to communicate to people about the vaccination drive. We even used our vehicle for announcements for the same. Our primary target was shopkeepers in the vicinity and many people turned up. By 3:30 PM we had vaccinated over 160 people from the target groups," Mukhtar said.

Some officials at these vaccination centers said that due to rumors and reluctance to get vaccinated, many people had not turned up for vaccination. However, leaving behind all apprehensions, many others who showed up at these vaccination centers urged others to not miss getting vaccinated.

"There are all the rumours that are doing rounds  but when the health experts are taking vaccines themselves why to fear. I run a Kashmir art shop at Srinagar and I feel we should be vaccinated so that when the lock-down is over we are well protected for ourselves and for the safety of others," said Nazir Ahmed, a shopkeeper.

During the vaccination drive, there was a special focus on tourism players in Srinagar. One of the vaccination centers was set up at Nigeen club where tourism players including houseboat owners, shikarawalas got a dose of vaccine.

Shaista Khan, nodal officer at Nigeen club vaccination center said that many tourism players queued up to get vaccinated at Nigeen club Hazratbal.

"By 3 Pm we had vaccinated around 120 people and people were still coming. The vaccination centre was primarily focused to vaccinate the tourism players including hoteliers and their staff. The response has been good but some people including youngsters are still reluctant. More positive information and debunking of rumours regarding vaccine reluctance has to be carried out to get people into confidence," Khan said.

The in-charges at these vaccination centers said that they are making sure to follow the SOPs. At some centers like Nishat, tents were set up for people to wait while maintaining social distance.

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Muhammad Aijaz Asad told Greater Kashmir that there are group of people from certain profession who are most exposed and were being vaccinated.

"These high risk groups should be vaccinated as quickly as possible followed by others. It will not only safeguard these groups but all those who are going to come in contact with them in future. We have supplied enough vaccines to these locations and we will make sure that all target groups are vaccinated smoothly," Asad said.

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