Covid-19 vaccines reach Assam, Meghalaya


Guwahati/Agartala, Jan 12, 2021, IANS

By Sujit Chakraborty

The much-awaited Covid-19 vaccine reached two northeastern states -- Assam and Meghalaya -- as the special flights from Pune delivered the doses to 11 other locations across the country on Tuesday.

The first phase of Covid-19 vaccination will start across the country on January 16.

Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted earlier on Tuesday: "Today @airindiain, @flyspicejet @goairlinesindia & @IndiGo6E will operate 9 flights from Pune with 56.5 lakh doses to Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Bengaluru, Lucknow & Chandigarh."

According to Airport Authority of India (AAI) officials in Guwahati, a consignment of over 2.40 lakh vaccine doses reached the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport on Tuesday evening.

AAI's Regional Executive Director (northeast region), M. Suresh, said that a total of 20 boxes having 2,40,000 doses was delivered at the Guwahati airport by a Spicejet aircraft.

"Of the 20 boxes, each box has 12,000 doses of the vaccine, of which 17 are for Assam and the remaining three for Meghalaya. No communication has been received yet as to when the next consignment for the other six northeastern states would come," Suresh told IANS over phone.

He said: "We are very much equipped to transport Covid vaccines to different parts of the northeast region. The LGBI airport has been marked as the nodal point of distribution of vaccines for the region, and we would fully cooperate with all the agencies in timely distribution of the vaccine through air cargo. Our cargo wing in Guwahati has readied up its infrastructure and has marked the pick-up points for effective and smooth flow of the consignment."

The Spicejet flight arrived at the Guwahati airport from Pune via Kolkata and departed for Hyderabad.

Suresh said that all the 20 vaccine boxes were handed over to the respective state health departments for further distribution within nine minutes of their arrival.

He said the cargo complex at the Guwahati airport has made all possible arrangements for smooth dispersal of vaccines to their destinations. The arrangements include cold storage, dedicated pick-up points, help desk, exchange points, entry-exit and sanitisation area, among others.

LGBI airport Director Ramesh Kumar said: "We are hopeful that the AAI in coordination with our stakeholders and partners would effectively deliver the vaccine doses to all the state governments in the region."

The officials from Assam and Meghalaya health departments, CISF officials, airline staff, traffic police, cold storage chain members and other stakeholders were present at the airport to receive the vaccine boxes.

According to the officials of the Assam health department, the state has short-listed close to two lakh people for the first phase of vaccination while Meghalaya has chosen 30,000 frontline health workers for the vaccination drive.

Tripura's state immunisation officer Kallol Kumar Roy told IANS that the Immunisation Division of the Union Health Ministry has allocated 56,500 doses of Covid-19 vaccine to be supplied by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India.

Additional Secretary at the Union Health Ministry, Manohar Agnani, in a letter to the Tripura government said that it is being informed that for the vaccination of prioritised beneficiaries in the initial phase of Covid-19 vaccination, including healthcare workers of the state government, Central government and armed forces, 56,500 doses of Covid-19 vaccine are being supplied.

"The states and Union Territories are requested to ensure expeditious transportation of the vaccine to the last mile cold chain points as per the beneficiary load," the letter said.

All the eight northeastern states have already prepared around a thousand vaccination sites to administer the Covid-19 vaccine to the frontline workers and armed forces personnel in the first phase.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at sujit.c@ians.in)
 

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