ON Saturday the vaccination began in J&K with two inaugural ceremonies with Lieutenant Governor (LG) Manoj Sinha launching the drive at Government Medical College, Jammu for the Jammu division and the Advisor to LG Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar starting the proceedings at Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) in Srinagar. At SKIMS, the first vaccine shot was given to director SKIMS, Dr. AG Ahangar and a sanitation worker.
In the run up to the drive, Jammu and Kashmir had received the first shipment of 1.46 lakh Covishield doses of Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and University of Oxford, manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII). On the first day, the government vaccinated 4000 people. However, in the first phase, only healthcare workers across the Union territory who had registered themselves for the vaccination were given shots while frontline workers would be covered in the second phase.
The centre had also directed Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh administrations to deliver some vaccines to central and armed forces healthcare workers too. Similarly, the Union Health Ministry along with the Union Territory administration in Ladakh and Army had made special arrangements to vaccinate 4000 Army soldiers deployed in various forward areas of the Eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control. Adequate stocks were forwarded to all districts and choppers were pressed into service to take vaccines to far off places. Ladakh had received 11,500 doses of Covishield vaccine which were equally distributed between Leh and Kargil.
It was good that the doctors took the lead by taking the vaccine. This was important to bolster the confidence among the larger public. As things stand, there is some hesitancy among the people about taking the vaccine. This despite the fact that even people with allergies can take the shot except those who are allergic to any of the ingredients present in the vaccine.
So far, over 1.22 lakh have been infected by the virus in the union territory and close to 1915 people have died. That said, people will need to continue to exercise caution, something that, sadly, is not the case now. A small number of people use masks. And with vaccines being administered, the complacency is likely to grow. It is important to ensure that the guard is not let down at a time when people have to wait only a few months more before the vaccine is widely available. Hopefully, this year should see the beginning of the end of Covid-19 pandemic which alone will restore the normal life.
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