Thursday, Apr 08, 2021 08:15 [IST]

Last Update: Thursday, Apr 08, 2021 02:45 [IST]

Jabs for all

Sikkim saw an exponential spike in positive cases on Tuesday, from single digits to 23, which is a serious cause for concern. The number of positive cases is expected to rise in the coming days and what is alarming is the reports of 10 students testing positive from a single school in Gangtok. Out of the 23, 7 are reported to be tourists.
With the second wave taking new case additions to record highs, there are people now asking the government to temporarily stop the entry of tourists into the State. Also, the urgency for vaccines has increased and some experts and state governments have been clamouring for reducing the age criteria for vaccination to allow a greater protection for the population. It is felt that all school and college teachers, irrespective of age, should be vaccinated across the State, since the schools have reopened for physical classes and students are now being infected on a rapid pace.
Caught in a highly infectious wave of coronavirus disease, India launched a nationwide vaccination in January this year. As pointed out by experts, vaccination is India's artillery against the viral contagion which has infected more than 12.5 million in the country. Amid the raging debate as to why the Government is not opening the COVID-19 vaccination drive for all, the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday said that the aim is to not administer the vaccine to those who want it but to those who need it. The Centre has currently allowed vaccines for only those who are aged 45 or above. The Indian Medical Association had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggesting that vaccination be allowed for all people above the age of 18 years.
However, government officials on Tuesday said they are not keen on vaccinating people below the 45-year age threshold as of now, and instead prefer sticking to the global practice of protecting the high-risk groups only. Addressing a press conference, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that many people are asking why isn’t the Government allowing everyone to get inoculated with the COVID vaccine. There are two aims of such vaccination drives - to prevent deaths and protect the healthcare system. The aim is not to administer the vaccine to those who want it but to those who need it, Bhushan said.
The remarks also came after several state governments like of Delhi and Maharashtra asking the Centre to increase the vaccine eligibility to include younger adults as well from the current criteria of inoculating only people who are 45 years old and above and healthcare and frontline workers. The two governments have sought an expansion in eligibility criteria after seeing a record increase in the number of cases in the second wave. The situation has led both state governments to impose night curfews across the state and they have also asked the Centre to allow vaccination of younger population who are seen as the bigger spreaders. If one looks at the demographic pattern of Covid infections, most of the people are of younger age groups because those are the people who are moving around very frequently. So for vaccinations, age restrictions should be taken away, IMA is of the view. And most of the populace endorse this logic that the more people get vaccinated, the more we will be able to reduce the spread of the disease. The time is now.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi