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Vaccination coverage

vaccine close scaled
FILE: KM/UMAR GANIE


Vaccination programme in Jammu and Kashmir is making news for all the right reasons. The union territory is all set to dislodge Kerala to attain the top spot in the vaccination coverage. The Jammu and Kashmir government has administered the first vaccine dose to 21.6 percent of the population so far. Kerala ranks first with 22.4 percent vaccination coverage.  Jammu and Kashmir is ahead of Delhi which is ranked third with 21 percent coverage. Gujarat with 20.5 percent and Uttarakhand with 19.8 percent are at fourth and fifth position. Data experts, however, dispute the figures. Health honchos say there is some data discrepancy that has gone in favour of Kerala.  Officials say the vaccination coverage in J&K could be around 35 percent if the data discrepancy is solved. Figures reveal that over 28.41 lakh people have been inoculated with the first dose so far. If cumulative figures of the first and second dose are taken into consideration, Jammu and Kashmir has immunized around 34 lakh people so far. They include health workers, frontline workers, and people above 60 years, and citizens above 45 with or without comorbidities. In the 18 to 44 age group, J&K has immunized 2.57 lakh people which accounts for more than four percent. Around 48 lakh people in this age group are to be inoculated. In the 45 plus group, nearly 29 lakh people are to be vaccinated. Vaccination sites have been increased across 20 districts in Jammu and Kashmir. In addition, door to door vaccination has also been started to inoculate the elderly and physically challenged population. Jammu and Kashmir has many firsts to its credit. Weyan in district Bandipora became the first village in India where the entire 18 year plus population has been vaccinated. All 362 beneficiaries in the village were vaccinated. The village is at a distance of 28 km from Bandipora town. Of them, 18 kilometres have to be covered on foot as there is no road available. The record is attributed to the ‘J&K Model’ under which the administration decided to reach out to the people. ‘J&K model’ has adopted a 10-point strategy to vaccinate the entire eligible population at an accelerated pace. Jammu and Kashmir has achieved another milestone after several districts inoculated the entire 45 plus population. Jammu, Shopian, Samba, and Ganderbal districts have taken lead in this drive. Other districts are not lagging behind and most of them have achieved a 90 percent target. Jammu and Kashmir has achieved a rare feat by becoming one of the top states and union territories for inoculating 70 percent of the population above the age of 45, which is double the national average.  Interestingly, Jammu and Kashmir is also among the few places in the country which has not seen much Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI). Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) is any untoward medical occurrence that follows immunization and may not necessarily have a causal relationship with the vaccine. Jammu and Kashmir began its vaccination drive on January 16. It started with healthcare and frontline workers. The frontline workers included police personnel, defence personnel, volunteers, and sanitary workers from Srinagar Municipal Corporation. It was then extended to 60 years and above the age of 45 with co-morbidities. Later, it was opened to 45 above irrespective of their co-morbidities. It is heart-warming that people are shunning the hesitancy and thronging vaccination centres. Though there are still some people who live in the past, the overwhelming majority of the population has shown their intent. Credit also goes to the government, health practitioners, and religious preachers who reached out to the people and cleared misconceptions.  Having said so, there is still a long way to go. There is no room for complacency.  God willing, we will unitedly defeat COVID 19.