A month after COVID19 vaccination was started for the 18-44 year age group in Srinagar and Jammu districts, this segment of population still remains bereft of vaccines in most of the other districts in J&K.
J&K government procured a consignment of 1.5 lakh doses of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech on 1 May and started the vaccination drive for 18-44 year age group, syncing with the start of Phase 4 of vaccination announced by government of India on the same day.
The vaccination for this age group was carried out at select centers in Srinagar and Jammu districts; however, both the coverage and uptake were poor, a senior official in health and medical education department said. The official said, a week ago, the fresh stock of AstraZeneca vaccines procured by J&K Government, however, sped up the drive and till date, 1.8 lakh people in this age group received the shot.
A number of doctors have expressed concern over this segment of the population for not having been vaccinated. A physician working with SKIMS Soura said that 1.8 lakh was a "miniscule percentage" of the people that fall in this age group. "We have technically delayed protecting these people by a month," he said.
He said that the best preparation for averting the third wave was to get people vaccinated and expressed dissatisfaction over the coverage of vaccines.
Moreover, many people residing in districts other than Jammu and Srinagar have lamented the "step motherly treatment" by the health department. "Are our lives less precious that we have been denied the vaccine?" Suhail Mir, a 30 year old shopkeeper from Baramulla said. He said most of his friends of the same age living in Srinagar were also yet to get the vaccine despite contrary claims made by the Government. "A few lucky ones got the vaccine," he said.
Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education department, Atal Dulloo said that vaccination of the 18-44 age group had been started in eight districts last week and was planned to be expanded to all districts soon. "We will start covering the remaining 12 districts in the coming week," he said.
Director General Health, Family Welfare and Immunization, Dr Saleem ur Rehman said that vaccination will pace up in June. "We have already expanded to other districts and we will be adding more districts and vaccine sites to enhance the coverage," he said. He said his department was starting a vaccination drive in market places when the lockdown opened. "For us, every life is equally important," he said.