In the last year and a half, our small state has seen 1.5 lakh cases with more than 2700 deaths. Until a couple of weeks back, Goa had the highest positivity rate in the country. With one out of every two people testing positive for Covid, the health infrastructure was groaning under the burden. With curfews and lockdowns in place, the state has slowly started breathing again. With another wave looming in the distance, it is clear that it is incredibly important to get as many people vaccinated as possible.
The Chief Minister himself has plans to vaccinate all above 18 years of age by the end of July. Being the smallest state, with a population of just 16 lakh, his hopes of becoming the first state to achieve 100% vaccination, could very well become reality. To help increase the number of people vaccinated, the Govt has widened the scope for phase-wise vaccination.
Once vaccination had opened up for the 18-45 age group, the govt had expanded the definition of frontline workers to include taxi drivers, rickshaw drivers, motorcycle pilots, persons with disabilities, and seafarers. This was in addition to the government field staff, journalists, and lifeguards. With a surplus of 2.5 lakh vaccines in hand, it then included lactating mothers with children under the age of 2. However, the lukewarm response has made them expand the ambit to parents with children till the age of 5.
Till now, there have been close to 5.5 lakh vaccination doses administered in the state, with around 6000 doses being given on a daily basis. With the current rate, it’s highly unlikely that the entire population can be vaccinated in less than two months. Perhaps, it ought to use a multi-pronged approach to tackle the problem.
Online registrations continuing as it is, perhaps the govt ought to start door-to-door vaccinations for those who are not able to access them. There are remote villages, with scarcely enough connectivity to be able to make a phone call. And there is the case of the elderly as well as the disabled who aren’t able to make it to the vaccination center. For such people, door-to-door vaccinations will be highly beneficial.
But do we have the resources for this? Do we have enough vaccines for everyone? Do we have enough manpower to go door to door? Despite the many efforts, there are people who refuse to get vaccinated. Maybe the CM will have to take a leaf out of Joe Biden’s book and start offering free beer to those who get vaccinated. Maybe he will be surprised to find everyone vaccinated before the month is over.
All said and done, vaccinations are the only way forward. With vaccination passports being mandatory to fly abroad, it is quite literally, the ticket to freedom. The doorway takes us back into pre-covid times. It holds out a glimmer of hope for those stuck at homes, dreaming to just walk out in the open sky, free of all fear.