Jammu and Kashmir: Covid vaccination drive picks up as people line up at centres

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On Saturday, 46 year old Tayeeb Ahmad travelled seven kilometers with his wife to get a jab, only to be told that the stock of Covid-19 vaccine had run out. With fresh supplies having arrived, a determined Tayab revisited the centre on Monday and got himself vaccinated, demonstrating a marked-shift in people’s attitude towards the Covid-19 vaccine amid a continuous rise in infections and a record number of deaths registered in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday.

“I was very sad when the [hospital] staff told me [that] vaccine doses were finished, but on my next visit, I got the jab along with my wife,” said Tayeeb. “I just developed a fever and no other complications after the vaccination.”

J&K on Monday reported 23 deaths due to Covid-19– the highest-ever toll in a 24-hour period since the outbreak. So far, 178 deaths have been recorded in April alone, taking the cumulative Covid death toll to 2,172. The region also reported 2,135 fresh novel coronavirus infections on Monday, taking the overall UT tally to 162,890. The month of April has already witnessed 31,930 Covid infections, the second-highest monthly total after September, 2020, when the first wave of Covid-19 had peaked with 37, 372 cases and 478 deaths.

Suddenly, people seem to realise the urgency of the current situation, translating into a rush for vaccination. “Earlier, just a few dozen people used to come for vaccination, but now, there are long queues around our centres. This is good as people have realised the importance of vaccination,” said a paramedic associated with the Government Medical College Baramulla.

Asif Ahmad, a university teacher was vaccinated last month but his family members were reluctant. “…When my family members saw videos of people gasping for oxygen on social media, they decided to go for the vaccination.”

Professor and the head of department (HOD) Community Medicine at the Government Medical College (GMC) in Srinagar, Mohammad Salim Khan said that on April 2, only 65 people got vaccinated at GMC vaccination centres. “On Monday it was 633. The people shouldn’t wait to get themselves vaccinated.”

As per the official records, till Monday evening, 2,099,551 people had received at least one dose of Covid vaccine in the 20 districts of the UT, with Jammu, Baramulla and Srinagar districts receiving the highest number of jabs.

Officer on special duty in the Health and Medical Education department, J&K, Dr Shafqat Khan said vaccination had picked up pace since the misconceptions and fears associated with it was on a decline. “The misconceptions and fears in the minds of people have gradually declined. The government has asserted that the vaccine is safe and effective.”

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