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High Court raps Nagaland Govt. on shortage of COVID vaccine

Nagaland News

Directs State to complete vaccination within 3 months

DIMAPUR, JULY 1: The Kohima Bench of Gauhati High Court has observed that availability of COVID vaccine in Nagaland is “far short” of the number of people that needs to be vaccinated and directed the State Government and the Central Government to make the required number of vaccine doses available.

The Court gave the direction after hearing a Suo Moto PIL on June 30.
In the hearing, Counsel for Health Department, N Mozhui submitted that the population that needs to be vaccinated in Nagaland or who are eligible for vaccination are 13,54,722 irrespective of age group. On the availability of vaccine, he submitted that as on June 30 there are 87,110 doses available in Nagaland.
After hearing the Counsels at length, Justice Songkhupchung Serto and Justice S Hukato Swu were of the view that though vaccination is going on, availability of vaccine is “far short” of the number of people that needs to be vaccinated.
“If the State has to fight the COVID war effectively and prevent the 3rd wave coming and causing so much of suffering as the 2nd wave has done, we feel that the only way is ramping up vaccination and complete the same at the earliest”, the Court said in an order issued on June 30.

The Court directed the State Government and the Central Government to do all possible at their command to make the required number of doses of vaccine available on time so that vaccination can be carried out with speed and completed at least within 3 months.
“We say this keeping in view the number of people that needs to be vaccinated in the State”, the order said.
The Court also directed Counsel for the Health Department and K Sema, Senior Additional Advocate General to come with instructions as to the possibility of making the required number of doses of vaccine available within the time frame mentioned on the next date for hearing.
‘Unvaccinated health workers’
Concerning health workers, Mozhui submitted that out of 25,000 plus, only 15,000 plus has taken the vaccination and out of that 10,000 plus has taken their 2nd dose. “This figure has raised some concern because they are the people who are delivering the health service to the people. In case they are infected they will be the ones who will be spreading the virus to others”, it observed.
Stating that nobody can be forced to take vaccine unless they volunteer, the Court, however, urged authorities to make sure that these health workers, in case they do not volunteer to take the vaccine, produce their testing certificate as and when they report for duties. It also directed the District Task Force to ensure that private hospitals also follow the same directives.

‘Vaccination of traders’
On the order passed by the Court on June 16 on vaccination of shopkeepers and vegetable vendors, since they are vulnerable section of the society who are potential spreader of the virus due to the nature of their profession, the Court said nothing much in particular has been done on the issue.
Mozhui had submitted that since the vaccination centres are open, shopkeepers can also avail the opportunity.
The Court directed the State Government to take some pragmatic steps so that priority is given to these groups of people at the earliest.
‘Govt. servants’
On the submission of the Health Department’s Counsel that vaccination camps have been organized at Secretariat and Directorate level for Government servants, the Court reminded the Government and authorities concerned that for judiciary no camp of that sort has been organized for facilitating vaccination of the judicial fraternity.
On concerns expressed as to the status of vaccination of Government servants since their services are required at all times, the Court observed that during the lockdown Departments have prepared rosters for attendance keeping in view the SOP issued now and then. “However, since no one knows as to when this war against COVID will end, the Government should come up with some pragmatic plan so that office works are not affected for such a long time.”

Amicus Curiae, Taka Masa submitted that for the journalist community also no such camp has been organized.
“Because of the nature of their work, we are of the view that a special camp should also be organized for this community”, the Court said.
‘Quarantine centres’
On the affidavit filed by the State Government that quarantine centres/isolation centres have been open in all districts except in the districts of Mokokchung, Zunheboto and Tuensang, the Court reiterated the necessity to open such centres. “…we are of the firm view that such centres should be open in those districts where it has not been opened. Without much emphasis, we may also add here that this is a time period open for us to be better prepared to face the 3rd wave as and when it comes”, it said. (Page News Service)