Assam aims to jab 15-18 yr olds with Covaxin by Jan 9

Assam aims to jab 15-18 year olds with the first dose of Covaxin by January 9

The administration aims to fully vaccinate the students by mid-February

A vial of Covaxin. Credit: AFP Photo

The Assam government is targeting to administer the first dose of Covaxin to all teenagers in the 15-18 years age group within seven days from the beginning of the national inoculation drive for this category from January 3, Health Minister Keshab Mahanta said on Friday.

The administration aims to fully vaccinate the students by mid-February before their annual and board examinations begin by the end of that month.

"As the people in the 15-18 years age group are mostly students, we have decided to carry out the drive at schools and colleges. Detailed discussions have been held with deputy commissioners and other officials, and they are ready to set up the vaccination centres at the educational institutions in a phased manner," the minister told reporters.

Read more: Covaxin shows robust safety, immunogenicity in 2-18-year-olds: Bharat Biotech reveals clinical trial data

"We aim to administer the first dose to all the beneficiaries within seven days from January 3, when the national drive begins. We will give Covaxin to the youngsters so that they are able to take the next dose by mid-February. Our target is to ensure that students are fully vaccinated well before their annual and board examinations, which will begin in February-end," he said.

Mahanta urged the guardians to ensure that their wards are vaccinated as no online examinations are likely to be held in this term and the students can safely sit for their offline exams.

Besides the special camps at the educational institutions, all regular vaccination sites will have a special counter for the 15 to 18 years category, he said.

The minister said that a detailed plan for giving booster dose to people above 60 years of age and frontline workers from January 10 is also being worked on.

On the threat posed globally by the new Omicron variant of Covid-19, Mahanta said though no case of this strain has been detected in the state so far, his department is fully prepared to tackle any eventuality.

"We have readied 9,000 beds for Omicron patients, and we will increase this number to 25,000 within a week. Moreover, we have 1,000 ICU beds and 2,600 beds with oxygen supply ready for Omicron patients," he said.

He said that the laboratory at North East Institute of Science and Technology, Jorhat is equipped to conduct genome sequencing to detect Omicron cases, while another such facility will be established at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital.

The minister said that eight medical colleges and hospitals are functioning in the state, and another will start operating in Dhubri next year. Work on six more is underway, while five more will also be constructed, he said.

Eight dedicated cancer hospitals are likely to be completed by April, while all the 4,600 health sub-centres in the state are being converted into health and wellness centres to ensure the availability of primary treatment at the local level, he said.

As many as 3,361 new appointments in various categories, including doctors, have been made since May when the Himanta Biswa Sarma government assumed office, Mahanta said.

The state's Covid-19 tally is now at 6,20,573, of which 6,164 patients have succumbed to the infection and 6,12,282 have recovered so far. The administration has administered 2,17,27,725 first doses and 1,57,89,763 second doses. 

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