It is 12.30pm, Monday, June 18. Gayatri Dutta (75), a resident of Natun Sarania Gandhi Basti in Guwahati is waiting for a knock on her door. It will confirm the presence of health workers from the nearby Urban Public Health Centre under East Guwahati State Dispensary as part of the Har Ghar Dastak 2.0 campaign undertaken by the National Health Mission (NHM) across Assam, alarmed by the falling vaccination rate in the State, especially of the booster dose, and the eligibility of children above 12 for their first dose.
Gayatri’s anxiety is put to rest when a three-member team consisting of two ANMs (Auxiliary Nursing Midwifery) and an ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) worker arrives at her residence.
This is her second dose while her family members had their booster dose much earlier. As part of the programme, the Duttas contacted the dispensary and scheduled her appointment. “I feel secure today. I think I will not contract Covid now,” says Dutta to Asom Barta.’
Parbin Sultana, the ANM who had administered Covid-19 dose to Gayatri, says that there is still hesitation among many but with every passing day it is on the wane.
“I have administered about eight thousand Covid doses since the vaccination drive started,” she says. Nilima Devi, the ASHA who accompanied the two ANMs to Gayatri’s house, says that in the first phase she brought people to the vaccine centres by reasoning for it but now people come on their own. “Since I have data of the people in my area, I know who is above 60 and who are the ones left behind,” she says.
Block Programme Manager of East Guwahati Public Health Centre under NHM, Ruprekha Khataniar, says that under this vaccination campaign, the PHC organized camps in educational institutions, launch special drive for the elderly to administer these doses door-to-door.
“Till June 20, we have completed 92 sessions in areas under our jurisdiction. We clocked a very good response,” says Khataniar.
She adds that the PHC has also received requests to administer the vaccine for the elderly from the 104 (Assam Government’s health helpline) phone service.
Uttara Baishya (64), a resident of Nizarapar area in Chandmari, contacted the East Guwahati State Dispensary for her precautionary dose. She, too, received her dose at the New Guwahati Treasury Office near her residence.
“I am doubly protected now. I thank the State Government for initiating this health campaign,”she says.
According to data provided by a Universal Immunisation Programme official, the total doses administered across the State at the end of the drive was nearly 11.56 lakh, out of which nearly 1.90 lakh were booster doses. “In the first few days of the drive, the average dose administered was very impressive but because of incessant rains and flood, the drive had to be slowed down,” says a senior official, adding that the numbers are still satisfactory.
“The Har Ghar Dastak 2.0 campaign commenced on June 1 across the country but in Assam the first few days were used to put logistics and other requirements in place and it began in the State on June 6 ,” a Health Department official says.