Sunday, July 25, 2021

This CoWin registration thing

As on June 13, our State Immunization Officer informed that Nagaland administered a total of 3,43,671 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 2,88,955 persons. On June 14, he informed: out of the total doses administered in the State, frontline workers – 59,418, healthcare professionals – 15,701, people above 45 years – 1, 1,30,376 and 18 to 44 years age group – 83,460. He further informed that a total of 54,716 beneficiaries received the second dose of the vaccine completing the full course of vaccination. They comprise: frontline workers – 28,124, healthcare workers – 10,303, and, people above 45 years -16,289. By today, the numbers would have gone up marginally. For a population of around 20 lakhs, these aren’t very encouraging figure ~ considering the increase in positive cases and deaths. Definitely, we are confronting issues of vaccine hesitancy, vaccine short supply besides a constrained healthcare infrastructure and human resources. For vaccine hesitancy, our Government, church, civil societies, tribal, women and student organizations, individuals ~ particularly well-known and respected personalities in the fields of arts, literature, music, theatre, sports, etc., and social media influencers need to put heads together to strategize on dispelling unfounded fears of the vaccine emanating from rumours, unfounded unscientific hypotheses and religious heresies and gibberish. But it must be ensured these non-governmental individuals aren’t anti-vaxers. This would entail a close watch on postings and forwards in social media groups without violating free speech and privacy. Clearly the Government’s task is cut and dried, which shouldn’t be much of a problem if the Government doesn’t prioritize politics ~ especially of the electoral types ~ over human life and health. As for vaccine short supply and our constrained healthcare infrastructure and human resources, as also geographical constraints, our Government would need to sort that out ~ because it is doable, if it is determined. Sometime in April-May, Bhutan vaccinated a good number of people in inaccessible places by air-lifting medical vaccination teams, who also created awareness and educated the citizens there. The possibilities, the human mind is capable of, is infinite ~ it’s just a question of mustering the will and applying the mind. The other issue our State Government needs to focus on and act fast is the impediments created by technology. In brief, this CoWin registration thing is not really working out. Till now, it is unproved whether technology or the user is at fault but do we have the time to constitute an inquiry into that seeing that while the pandemic’s second wave is not yet over and the third wave is imminent ~ if we go by experts’ cautionary words mainly due to the emergence of more severe variants of the virus? Reports are coming in about vaccination slots being allotted to citizens in distant place from their neighbourhood PHCs, etc., which would not only incur extra expenditure and inconvenience people since strict lockdown measures are still imposed but also lead to more infection. Indubitably, this problem is rife in all Northeastern States, perhaps except Assam where 2000 vaccinations teams are at work to vaccinate 2 to 3 lakh people in a day ~ if the Assam Government is to be believed. Be that as it may, Nagaland needs to vaccinate in the old-fashioned way ~ door-to-door for the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women and lactating mothers ~ for the rest, just queue up in neighbourhood vaccination centres maintaining proper protocols. In any case, vaccinations at PHCs, etc., were anyway done without CoWin registration in the early months of vaccination and identify proof of Aadhaar and other official documents were good enough. This CoWin registration is proving to be over-technologicalizing things thereby inconveniencing citizens of a country that is so marked by a sharp digital divide. Our Government needs to approach the Centre to unimpeachably plead its case towards protecting our people from falling prey to higher infection and death rates. Nagaland is under the Special State category hence there is no reason why for a workable vaccination programme we shouldn’t be exempted from this CoWin registration thing ~ after all, we were always unique. Ultimately, it’s a question of how passionately our Government wants all of Nagaland’s citizens to be vaccinated and safe from harm’s way. A little public pressure, no doubt, would do wonders to spur our Government into action. Oh sure, there will be loopholes here and there but for a Government that prides itself of being on top of things and e-empowered, that shouldn’t be a problem.