The COVID-19 vaccination programme which has been launched in Manipur with high spirit along with the rest of India on January 16 has given 14, 62,972 vaccine shots out which only 2,93,672 persons are fully vaccinated as of August 19, 2021.
The months of effort that government officials, partners and health care workers had put in to make the vaccination drive successful and keep motivations high. But only 15% of the total eligible 19,58,087 persons of Manipur for COVID-19 vaccination are fully vaccinated till the time of writing this story. While a number of villages in Manipur are declared fully vaccinated against COIVD-19, Manipur has to go a long way to be fully vaccinated.
On the inaugural day of the vaccination drive in Manipur, which is one of the worst affected states among the states of the Northeast vaccine shots were given at 10 vaccination sites. Now the vaccination centres have been increased and even with help of civil bodies vaccination drive continues beyond hospitals and health centres.
Even six villages in Manipur have been declared fully vaccinated. Robve Solephe village in Senapati district and Pearsonmun village in Churachandpur district became the first and second villages which have been fully vaccinated to protect from COVID-19. Then, Kalapahar and Santolabari Parsain under Kangpokpi assembly constituency became the first villages to get fully vaccinated in Kangpokpi district and the third in Manipur
Charhajare village under Kangpokpi district was on July 23 declared the first fully vaccinated village in Saitu Assembly Constituency.
Malom Khul under Heirok Assembly Constituency, with 354 locals receiving the Covid-19 vaccine on July 22, has become the first fully vaccinated village in Thoubal district.
Azuram village at present has 153 eligible persons for vaccination, of which as many as 149 persons have been vaccinated at 97.38 per cent till July 15.
Notably, last week in the inauguration of oxygen plants on August 10 and 11, concerning the COVID-19 situation in Manipur, the Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren urged people to overcome the vaccine hesitancy and asked all eligible persons to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves from COVID-19. He also maintained that early detection and timely treatment will save precious lives from the dreaded disease. He further said that people should not believe in myths, rumours and misinformation about vaccination and the disease.
Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren urged the local leaders, civil bodies, local clubs and village heads to organise mass vaccination drives at grassroots level. The State Government has a target to achieve 100 percent vaccination of eligible persons by September 2021, he added.
According to various studies, vaccinated people are less likely to be hospitalized compared to unvaccinated people. However, many are still reluctant to get vaccinated due to myths, rumours and misinformation about vaccination and the disease among various reasons. Even if the people are ready to get vaccinated, many are still reluctant due to long queues and waits at the vaccination centre.
In view of the rising concerns about COVID-19 vaccination, Imphal Review of Arts and Politics (IRAP) published on July 31 an interview with Dr. Brogen Akoijam; Head of Community Medicine Department (CMD) of Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) and he said, “No vaccine in the world is 100% protective. However, if you are vaccinated and do get the disease, the chances of severe disease, hospitalization and death are very less as compared to non-vaccinated individuals. So far in Manipur no person who is fully vaccinated (2 doses and 14 days after 2nd dose) has died of Covid-19.”
However, the pace of vaccination in Manipur is as slow as the number of vaccinations is low as compared to targeted deadline of the State Government.
Though State Government claims the total number vaccinations has reached 14,67,603 as of August 19, the total number of persons fully vaccinated is 2,93,672 only while the number of first dose is 11,73,931. It can also be visualised from the graph below.
As the COVID-19 continues to infect with different variants, many epidemiologists and experts hope that only reaching herd immunity will protect the population from COVID-19.
Epidemiologists and experts say as with any other infection, there are two ways to achieve herd immunity – A large proportion of the population either gets infected or gets a protective vaccine. What we know about coronavirus so far suggests that, if we were really to go back to a pre-pandemic lifestyle, we would need at least 70% of the population to be immune to keep the rate of infection down i.e. “achieve herd immunity” without restrictions on activities. But this level depends on many factors, including the infectiousness of the virus (variants can evolve that are more infectious) and how people interact with each other.
For example, when the population reduces their level of interaction (through distancing, wearing masks, etc.), infection rates slow down. But as society opens up more broadly and the virus mutates to become more contagious, infection rates will go up again. Since we are not currently at a level of protection that can allow life to return to normal without seeing another spike in cases and deaths, it is now a race between infection and injection.
However, the race of injection in Manipur is slow and there is no sign of reaching the State Government’s target to achieve 100 percent vaccination of eligible persons by September 2021.
Unfortunately, from the data of vaccination for the period from July 1 to August 19, the daily shots of vaccinations are found to be as low as 322 on Second Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays.
If the present pace of vaccination is allowed to continue, it will be very hard to reach even 70% of the eligible persons for vaccination instead of 100 percent vaccination as targeted and claimed by the State Government.
Senior Editor: Imphal Review of Arts and Politics