COVID-19 vaccination begins in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh

4,000 get shots in Jammu and Kashmir January 16; soldiers on LoC, LAC inoculated

By Riyaz Wani
Published: Sunday 17 January 2021

Vaccination against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) began in Jammu and Kashmir January 16, 2021 with two inaugural ceremonies in Jammu city and Srinagar respectively.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha launched the drive at Government Medical College in Jammu city for the Jammu division. Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, advisor to Sinha, started the proceedings at Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) in Srinagar.

The first vaccine shot at SKIMS was given to its director, AG Ahangar as well as a sanitation worker.

“The COVID-19 vaccine has been developed by the country’s intelligent workforce while taking into consideration safety protocols,” Ahangar said. He added, “One doesn’t need to fear it.”

Jammu and Kashmir received the first shipment of 1.46 lakh Covishield doses manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) January 13. The Kashmir Valley received 79,000 doses for vaccination of nearly 60,000 healthcare workers while the Jammu division received 67,500 doses. 

The government had planned to vaccinate 4,000 people on the first day of the drive. However, only healthcare workers across the Union territory, who had registered themselves for the vaccination, were given shots. Frontline workers would be covered in the second phase.

Jameel Mir, the medical superintendent at the district hospital in South Kashmir’s Pulwama received the first shot. The hospital had a target of vaccinating 100 people. This included nurses and the other paramedical staff. 

The Centre had also directed the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh administrations to deliver some vaccines to Central and armed forces healthcare workers too, the officials said.

“There are 40 vaccination sites in Jammu and in Kashmir of which 20 are in Jammu and 20 are in Kashmir,” Atal Dulloo, the commissioner for health and medical education, said.

State immunisation officer, Qazi Haroon said the administration had conducted many mock drills in different districts in preparation for the vaccine rollout. This was done to understand the best way to administer the vaccine and plug loopholes in logistics and training.

“Adequate stocks were forwarded to all districts,” Haroon said. “Choppers were pressed into service to take vaccines to far off places,” he added.

The vaccine was also despatched to far-flung areas. PK Pole, divisional commissioner for Kashmir, along with deputy commissioner of Bandipora district, Owais Ahmad visited the snow-bound Gurez valley near the Line of Control January 15 to deliver the vaccine. 

The vaccines were handed over to the concerned health officers to be dispatched to the vaccination centres. 

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, along with the Union Territory administration in Ladakh and the army had also made special arrangements to vaccinate 4,000 soldiers deployed in various forward areas of eastern Ladakh, along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), official said. 

Besides troops, army doctors and paramedics deployed on the LAC were also given the vaccine. 

Ladakh had received 11,500 doses of the Covishield vaccine, that were equally distributed between the Leh and Kargil districts. 

Haroon said the vaccine was administered at the primary health centres for which, 17 sites in Leh and 23 in Kargil were created.

So far, over 0.12 million have been infected by the virus in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and close to 1,915 people have died.

An editorial in a local daily Kashmir Observer has warned people against complacency in the wake of the newly launched vaccination. 

“People will need to continue exercising caution, something that sadly, is not the case now. A small number of people uses masks. And with vaccines being administered, the complacency is likely to grow,” the editorial read.

“It is important to ensure that the guard is not let down at a time when people have to wait only a few months more before the vaccine is widely available,” it added.

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