Assam Vaccinated Only 15% Residents, Young Struggle To Book Slots

Till Monday, the state vaccinated more than 21 lakh people above the age of 60 years and around 7 lakh people from the other group. Overall, that amounts to only 15.33 per cent of the eligible population.

Assam Vaccinated Only 15% Residents, Young Struggle To Book Slots

There is a growing concern about whether online booking will work in rural and remote areas of Assam.

Guwahati:

Babul Dhar is a pharmacist in Guwahati's Adabari locality, who cannot stay indoors despite Assam's ongoing Covid-linked curfew. The 37-year-old is a pharmacist and has to continue working. Pharmacies are essential services, but pharmacists like Mr Dhar are not considered frontline workers.

Ever since vaccination has been allowed for 18-44-year-olds in the state on May 7, he has been trying to book a slot. But he has had no success yet.

Though the Assam government claims they are keeping more than one lakh vaccines always for the 18-44-year-olds, people like Mr Dhar who desperately need it, are yet to get a shot.

"I have been trying every day to book a slot. Even when I am at work, family members keep trying. It is not clear what we should do. How will we get vaccinated?" he said.

Pointing to his profession, he said they have to work every day from 7 am. "People come for medicines and we don't even know who carries the virus. We should essentially get the vaccine, but the government has done nothing for us," Mr Dhar told NDTV.

Till May 17, Assam has vaccinated 27.29 lakh people with the first dose of the vaccine.

Assam had estimated it has to vaccinate about 70 lakh people above the age of 60 years, and there will be around 1.08 crore people between the age of 18 and 60 years.

Till Monday, the state vaccinated more than 21 lakh people above the age of 60 years and around 7 lakh people from the other group. Overall, that amounts to only 15.33 per cent of the eligible population.

Only 6.48 per cent people have been vaccinated in the 18-44-year age group so far.

"Vaccines are not available easily. We have a small supply. Each district is getting around 6,000 to 7,000 doses a day. In Guwahati alone, we have 60 vaccination centres for the above 45-year group and 50 centres to vaccinate the 18-44-year-olds. So we are allocating 200 vaccines per centre," Munindra Nath Ngatey, Director of Health Services (Family Welfare) told NDTV.

This scarcity of vaccine from the manufacturer's end has led to a major rush among the 18-44-year-olds.

"I have been trying to get an appointment for myself for more than a week now. All I am getting is disappointment. Every day I have been trying for about 45 minutes to get a slot but no luck. Sometimes the site freezes, sometime OTP does not come --  it is a mess. If this is the case in Guwahati, how would the rural folks get a slot?" said Riya Nath, who works with a Guwahati-based non-profit.

There is a growing concern about whether online booking will work in rural and remote areas of Assam and the rest of northeast.

"The moment the vaccine slots are opened, it shows green and before you blink the slots are all booked. This is a serious concern. In this situation, what would happen to the rural parts of the northeast, which have poor 4G network or weak broadband? It will become near impossible for young people in those areas," said Subhrajit Choudhury, a resident of Guwahati.