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Sunday, August 01, 2021

Gujarat: Banaskantha shows the way in vaccination for ‘super-spreaders’

In Banaskantha, as district development officer Ajay Dahiya explains, the super-spreaders such as vegetable vendors and rickshaw driver were prioritised when the vaccination was opened for those aged 45 years and above.

Written by Sohini Ghosh | Ahmedabad |
Updated: June 18, 2021 12:56:00 am
At a vaccination centre in Rajkot. (Express Photo by Chirag Chotaliya)

Banaskantha district has adopted a Covid-19 vaccination model prioritising “super-spreaders”, with Ahmedabad and Surendranagar following the suit.

Banaskantha, on April 17, had issued a notification through the district collector’s office, notifying that ‘superspreaders’ will be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine in the population above 45 years, and those who opt not to take the vaccine, will have to furnish a negative Covid-19 test every seven days.

In Banaskantha, as district development officer Ajay Dahiya explains, the super-spreaders such as vegetable vendors and rickshaw driver were prioritised when the vaccination was opened for those aged 45 years and above.

“We initially conducted meetings with merchant associations, pharmacists’ associations, grocery associations, block health officers and local municipalities. The associations concerned prepared a list of members above 45 years and special sessions were created for them. We are adopting a similar strategy in phase two with the 18-45 years’ group…We are urging the associations to register on the available session sites by providing them the details in advance,” he said.

Nearly 40,000 superspreaders were vaccinated in this manner across Banaskantha as per Chief District Health Officer S M Dev.

Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) jurisdiction on Wednesday started checking among the high-contact profession groups, such as vendors, teastall employees, local merchant shops, rickshaw drivers and other ‘super-spreader’ groups and facilitated them to get vaccinated. Medical Officer of health of AMC Bhavin Solanki said, “We have designated seven vaccination sites, one each at the seven zones, where we are facilitating vaccination of these groups with on-the-spot registration. The aim is to increase our coverage as much as possible and we expect that 75 per cent of this population will be covered with at least one vaccine dose, if not both, within the next two months.”

In Ahmedabad, the district collectorate, through resident additional collector Harshad Vora, had issued a notification on June 11, stipulating that, except the jurisdiction under Ahmedabad city police commissioner, nine types of ‘superspreaders’ will have to carry a negative Covid-19 test report valid for 10 days, if they are not vaccinated.

If vaccinated, they must keep proof of the same with them. The nine categories include vegetable and other vendors, hotel and restaurant workers, rickshaw, cab, taxi drivers and cleaners, pan shop and tea stall employees, hair salon and beauty parlour employees, private security guards and staff, self-employed workers such as tailors, electricians, plumbers, technicians, and employees of shopping malls and complexes.

District Collector Sandip Sagale says that an estimated one lakh population comprises the ‘superspreader’ category and to ensure a hassle-free process for the beneficiary, walk-ins have been permitted for such persons, whosoever is above 18 years of age.

Sagale adds that while no dedicated session site has been kept at present to ensure the vaccination of these groups, this may however be possible after June 21, when the central government takes over the procurement and supply of vaccines to all states. A district official says the move was partly inspired by the Banaskantha model.

In a similar move, Surendranagar district administration through the collector’s office, issued a notification in June stating that those in the ‘superspreader category’ will have to get vaccinated by June 30, which includes rickshaw drivers, shopkeepers, hotel workers, lorry drivers, vendors etc, says District Collector K Rajesh.

If not vaccinated, they should carry a negative RT-PCR report valid upto 72 hours. “This will ensure that they are vaccinated. For this category, usually taking a vaccine is not a priority owing to the nature of their livelihood,” said district collector K Rajesh.

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