Stating that the fight against COVID-19 is at the final stage, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Thursday cautioned against letting the guard down before it is completely over and requested states to enhance the vaccination coverage and motivate the over 12 crore beneficiaries who are due for their second dose to take it.
He also urged states and Union territories to ensure the entire adult population is administered the first dose during the ongoing har ghar dastak campaign.
During a virtual interaction with the health ministers of states and Union territories, Mandaviya observed that the fight against COVID-19 is at the final stage, a health ministry statement said.
"The two weapons of vaccination and CAB (COVID-19-appropriate behaviour) will be our greatest defence against it and we should not let our guard down before it is completely over," he said.
The minister stated that at present 79 per cent of the adult population has got the first dose of vaccine and 38 per cent has also received the second dose.
"Let us ensure collectively through collaborative and multi-stakeholder efforts that no eligible citizen is left without the suraksha kawachh of COVID-19 vaccine in the country. Let us reach each corner and household across the country and motivate people to take both the doses under Prime Minister Narendra Modiji's har ghar dastak campaign," he said.
He emphasised that while vaccination reduces the severity of the disease, adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour is of utmost important to ensure that the gains made collectively by the country so far are not frittered away and there is not any other surge of COVID-19 cases, according to the statement.
The meeting also reviewed the public health measures for containment and management of COVID-19 in states and UTs.
Noting that more than 12 crore beneficiaries are due for their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine, Mandaviya urged state health ministers to ensure they are motivated to take the second dose and all the adult population is covered with the first dose during the door-to-door campaign ongoing har ghar dastak, according to the statement.
Underlining that children can be the best ambassadors for behaviour change, he urged states and UTs to rope them in for taking forward the message of full vaccination.
"Let the children motivate their parents and other family members to take both the vaccine doses," he stated.
Mandaviya reiterated Prime Minister Modi's mop-up strategies for strengthening the har ghar dastak campaign, including deploying prachar toli in advance to villages which would ensure mobilisation and counselling of the eligible population along with awareness campaigns, followed by the vaccination toli which would ensure that all eligible citizens are vaccinated, the statement stated.
A strategy of multiple vaccination teams to ensure 100 per cent coverage in the targeted area in a time-bound manner and development of a ranking mechanism for identifying and felicitating the vaccination teams which administer the maximum number of doses every 24 hours for motivated progress of the drive were stressed by Mandaviya, the statement said.
He also laid emphasis on utilising weekly bazaars and haats for creating awareness and providing vaccination services, collaborating with local religious and community leaders, roping in civil society organisations, NGOs, etc, for motivating the unvaccinated in village/urban areas; multi-media awareness campaigns to effectively counter anti-vaccine rumours; and emulating innovative approaches and practices followed by high coverage districts.
"Let us start COVID vaccination centres at bus stations, railway stations, etc, especially in large metros, as these are the primary points for a large number of people entering the city. Some states have started a roko and toko campaign where the passengers alighting from buses, trains, rickshaws, etc, are motivated to take the vaccine doses," he said.
He also suggested that each day of the har ghar dastak campaign can be dedicated to mobilisation and vaccination of different groups of beneficiaries.
“One day can be dedicated for traders, hawkers, vendors, shopkeepers, etc, other days we can mobilise rickshaw-pullers and auto drivers. One day can be dedicated to labourers and farmers," he added.
The minister cautioned all states and UTs that COVID-19 was not over.
"We shouldn't think that COVID is over. Cases are rising globally. In Singapore, Britain, Russia and China cases are rising again despite more than 80 per cent vaccination. Vaccination and Covid-appropriate behaviour should go hand in hand," he stressed.
Health ministers Veena George (Kerala), Dhan Singh Rawat (Uttarakhand), Banna Gupta (Jharkhand), Lalthangliana (Mizoram), Mangal Pandey (Bihar), K Sudhakar (Karnataka), Rajesh Tope (Maharashtra), Prabhuram Choudhary (Madhya Pradesh), Jai Pratap Singh (Uttar Pradesh), Ma Subramanian (Tamil Nadu), Vishwajit Rane (Goa), Rushikesh Ganeshbhai Patel (Gujarat), Keshab Mahanta (Assam), and Satyendar Jain (Delhi) were present at the meeting.
Principal secretaries/additional chief secretaries/mission director (NHM) of all states were also present, the statement stated.
The state health ministers expressed their gratitude to Mandaviya for the supply of vaccines, drugs, financial and technical resources for the COVID-19 management, according to the statement.
They also shared the innovative steps being taken to ensure saturation of vaccination, especially in low-performing districts.
Mandaviya thanked all states and UTs for their overwhelming support and urged them to emulate the best practices being undertaken by others, the statement said.