Dimoria, Kamrup (Assam):
In Assam, only 1.72 crore people — about half the state’s population — have received even one dose of the Covid vaccine till now. To hasten the pace of the drive, at least in and around Guwahati, the government is improvising: turn polling booths into vaccination centres and using electoral rolls to identify those left out.
The target is to cover over 200,000 people in the region.
For instance, over 200 such facilities have already been converted in Kamrup metro district, where about 80 per cent of the 12 lakh beneficiaries have already been inoculated. Based on a survey using the voter lists, ‘booth level officers’, the local representatives of the Election Commission of India, have been identifying those who have slipped through.
“From the survey, we found the ‘left out’ voters and we listed them out. We also helped collect their phone numbers. They were contacted after we gave the list to the Deputy Commissioner’s office,” Harendra Boro, a booth level officer, told NDTV.
At one such polling centre in Dimoria on the outskirts of Kamrup metro district — and around 60 kilometres east of Guwahati — people could be seen queuing up outside as if waiting to vote.
This is where Laxmi Boro had waited patiently a few months ago during the Assam assembly polls. Today the 27-year-old did it again, but this time to get her second dose of Covid vaccine. She was one of the hundreds identified in the survey by booth level officers.
“I was missing out on second dose because I didn’t know where to get it. Then the local ASHA worker told me about this special drive. I waited from 9 am and my toddler was disturbing me, but I still managed,” Ms Boro.
For rural health workers in the state, this strategy has come as a big game-changer.
Many locals were apprehensive about getting vaccinated for fear of dying or even losing their reproductive health, according to Sahana Begum, an ASHA worker of the area in Kamrup.
“But as booth level officers came into the picture and even government teachers were used to convince people, those who missed out have now turned up,” said Ms Begum.