Updated: January 3, 2022 8:44:09 pm
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday sought to take credit for “pressurising” the Union government into announcing the vaccination drives for children and booster shots for certain adults.
Addressing a programme in Jaipur to launch a vaccination drive for children of 15-18 age group, Gehlot said, “It (vaccination) should be the Indian government’s priority – it’s not a political statement…we have to challenge Corona in a united way. It is a matter of saving lives. If you won’t live, then how will you do politics. But decisions are taken when there is pressure.”
“I was in touch with Niti Aayog, there is a certain Mr Paul there. He said that no booster dose will be given now as first the second dose will be administered to all the countrymen and then we’ll decide what is to be done. But I still wrote letters to the Prime Minister. We created pressure and they finally understood that booster dose and doses for children are important. Else you don’t know when they would have started,” Gehlot said at Rajkiya Adarsh Balika Ucch Madhyamik Vidyalaya in Jaipur.
“This is how we worked by creating pressure. And this happens in a democracy – ismein koi bura maan ne ki baat nahi hoti (there is nothing to mind here). If someone pressurises me – youth sit on a dharna at Shaheed Smarak, take out marches against us, it makes us happy. That there is someone who is warning us, the ministers and the officials, that this is their demand and we should pay attention. The government has lots of priorities, but when you protest, the priority has to be changed (by the government). What’s the harm in that, it’s a democracy,” Gehlot said, adding the disclaimer that “We are not speaking against the Central government.”
“We pressurise them. Even today I will say that booster doses should be administered to everyone, you make arrangements,” he said.
Over the last few months, Gehlot had been raising the issue of booster doses. In October last year, he had said that the experts in India should investigate and compile research to take a call on booster shots, as several nations are administering a booster dose since cases are still being witnessed after two shots. He had then written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at least twice, on November 19 and December 6, seeking booster shots.
Accompanied by Health Minister Parsadi Lal and others, Gehlot launched the drive from Rajkiya Adarsh Balika Ucch Madhyamik Vidyalaya in Jaipur. As children took turns for vaccines, Gehlot briefly interacted with them and handed them a chocolate after the jab.
Across the state, 3,456 vaccination centres have been created at government health facilities for vaccination of 15-18 year olds. Vaibhav Galriya, Principal Secretary, Medical Education, said that the number of beneficiaries in the said age group is estimated to be 53.15 lakh. Presently, only Covaxin is being administered to this age group.
Gehlot said that currently, the state is better than the national average in administering the first and the second doses. He said that the state had administered the first dose to 4.7 crore persons or 91.50 per cent of the target population, and 3.5 crore as a second dose, or over 75 per cent of the population. With 550 new cases – including 53 Omicron cases – being reported on Monday, the active Covid cases in the state stood at 2,084.
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