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Covid cloud over early election dates; no time to ‘immunize’ poll officials | India News – Times of India

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GUWAHATI: The fear of Coronavirus infection looms large over the upcoming election as many polling officials will not get the second jab by the time voting starts on March 27. Those who have received the second booster shot also face a dilemma as they will not be able to complete the essential two-week mandatory period after the second vaccination to be completely immunised as polling would start by then.
The sudden election announcement has put the state health department in a quandary as many government officials in the districts have already been pressed into election duty.
State immunization office records show 1,66,013 polling officials and security personnel were registered initially. However, 51,223 of them were given the first dose. Health sources said only a negligible section of polling officials got the second jab.
Vaccination picked up momentum only in the last couple of days of February. The three-phase elections are scheduled on March 27, April 1 and 6. Most officials will have to compromise on the immunity period. At the start of the vaccination drive, the Union health ministry had said there would be a minimum gap of 28 days between the two shots and effects would begin 14 days after the second jab.
“The districts were about to register all the polling officials. Since the procedure could not be followed on time, now the poll officials are walking in and manually registering themselves for the two doses,” immunization spokesperson and director of health services (family welfare), Assam, Munindra Nath Ngatey, told TOI.
The number of election officials to be vaccinated varies from district to district. While in bigger districts the numbers can be as high as 10,000-15,000, in smaller districts, an estimated 5,000-6,000 polling officials are being engaged.
“Administering the second dose will not be possible now for all polling officials. Still we are trying our best to vaccinate all officials with utmost priority,” Ngatey added.
Union health secretary Rajesh Bhusan, in a letter to the state health secretary wrote that the National Expert Group on Vaccination Administration for Covid-19 has recommended that all those officials, who are to be engaged in election-related duties, would be treated as frontline workers. Following the directive, the state election authority asked the deputy commissioners to prepare the lists of polling officials for registering in the Co-WIN portal for immediate vaccination.

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