Vaccination in Nagaland among lowest in NE; high hesitancy affecting drive

Morung Express News
Dimapur | April 4 

With the start of nationwide COVID-19 vaccination for people above 45 years of age from April 1, health officials in Nagaland expressed hope that vaccination process for COVID-19 will pick up in the coming days. 

‘It is too early to say now but people do are coming forward,’ a doctor associated with the vaccination process told The Morung Express on Sunday. The doctor, however, opined that it might take some time for the process to pick up. 

“We do not have a good history with vaccination even with children. And the mistrust in system is too deep that everything is seen with suspicion,” he added.

His concerns are not unfounded. According to ‘Cumulative Coverage Report of COVID-19 Vaccination’ bulletin issued the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), the total doses administrated in Nagaland as of 7:00 am on April 4 was 83,991. 

However, Nagaland and some other states were yet to reconcile their offline sessions on Co-WIN app, the designated platform for the citizens of India for COVID-19 vaccination related issues. 

The Weekly Bulletin issued by  the Department of Health and Family Welfare (H&FW) Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme(IDSP), Nagaland however gives a clearer picture. 

The April 3 edition of the Bulletin informed that a total of 89,349 doses of Covishield vaccine have been administrated across Nagaland in 1589 sessions as of April 2. 

However, even with the reconciling of offline sessions, Nagaland’s total dosages is still third lowest in North East region, with Mizoram and Sikkim recording the first and second lowest respectively.  It was highest in Tripura at 7,21,108, followed by 1,72,811 in Assam and 1,21,519 in Meghalaya. (See table) 

The doctor expressed hope that pace of vaccination among the 45 years and above do pick up in the coming days as the cohort is a crucial risk group in the state. 

According to the IDSP Bulletin, Case Fatality Rate or mortality rate of 45 years and above in the state is much higher at 2.6 % than the overall rate of 0.66%. 

“Vaccines offer the best chance against severe disease or death and all eligible citizens should get protected at the earliest,” it urged. 

As expressed often by health and other officials, hesitancy still seems to be affecting the vaccination drive in the state.   Even among the healthcare workers (HCWs), the vaccination is quite low. 

As per a review meeting of the Nagaland State Task Force held on February 11, there are a total of 21,549 registered HCWs and 51,718 registered frontline workers (FLWs) in the state. 

Only 31% HCWs and 5% of FLWs have even vaccinated so far, proceedings from the review meeting informed. 

A report from the DIPR then stated that the low coverage percentage can be attributed greatly due to the “reluctance of a majority of the health care workers as well as the frontline workers to take the vaccine for fear of side effects.” 

On February 15, Nagaland H&FW Minister, S Pangnyu Phom admitted that responses of frontline medical workers to the COVID-19 vaccination drive in Nagaland is “below expectation.”

The status has not improved much since then. 

According to the April 3 Bulletin, only of 12123 HCWs have received the 1st dose, denoting just only 56.25% of the total 21,549 registered.

It must be mentioned here that the HCWs were the first to get vaccinated during the nationwide launching programme on January 16.

Though started late, the percentage of FLWs receiving 1st dose is much higher at 73.10 %( 37806 out of 51,718), when calculated after reconciling data used on February 11 review meeting and the April 3 Bulletin.  

It was learnt that among the HCWs, while most doctors and nurses are vaccinated, the rate among supporting staff such as ASHA and Anganwadi workers were dragging the percentage down.

In a positive note, however, vaccinations among 60 years and above are comparatively higher, given the prevailing hesitancy factor.  As per the April 3 Bulletin, a total of 11155 has received the 1st dose in the age groups.  

Among 45-59 years age group, the response on the first two day starting April 1 seems to encouraging with 3639 individuals receiving the 1st dose.