Kohima | January 16
Nagaland on Saturday joined the rest of India in what is touted as the world’s biggest COVID-19 vaccination programmes, marking the beginning of an effort to immunise over a billion people across the country.
A total of 561 healthcare workers including doctors, nurses and support staff were vaccinated across nine districts in Nagaland with the exception of Kiphire and Noklak, according to the Nagaland Department of Health and Family Welfare (DoHFW). (See table)
Addressing the launching programme at the Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) today, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said that healthcare workers deserve priority in the first phase of vaccination.
Nagaland received about 26,500 Covishield vaccines on January 14 for the first phase of vaccination which will cover healthcare workers and front line workers.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Covishield, has been developed in collaboration with Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII).
Rio also saluted all the scientists and people involved in making the vaccine available within a year’s time stating that they have demonstrated the tremendous improvement in medical sciences.
The Chief Minister said that the vaccine has 75% efficiency in clinical trials which indicated good level of immunogenicity and has sufficient anti-bodies against COVID-19. Scientists have also ruled that the vaccine will be effective against new strains of the virus, he added.
Rio informed that a person must be registered in the CoWIN portal to receive the vaccine that requires two doses and said that the vaccine efficacy will be known 42 days after the first dose.
He further appealed the citizens not to feel panicky or deprived as vaccination will go in phase wise. The nationwide vaccination programme which is presently being taken up by the government agencies will soon be taken up by the private agencies, he added.
The DoHFW meanwhile informed that all vaccinated healthcare workers will receive the subsequent second dose after 28 days and COVID-19 appropriate behaviours would be strictly maintained even after vaccination.
State Immunization Officer (UIP) Dr Ritu Thurr said that starting January 18, more vaccination sessions will be held in all eleven districts for the remaining healthcare workers.
“Citizens are urged not to spread rumours and fake messaged around the COVID-19 vaccine. The Covishied vaccine has undergone all pre-clinical and clinical trials and is safe for use in the general population,” Dr Thurr added.
Of ‘rumours and prophecies’
The Chief Minister also addressed various ‘rumours and prophecies’ making the rounds on social media regarding the vaccine and said that he had spoken to church leaders and requested them to deliberate on the matter. He said that with Nagaland being a predominantly Christian state, there are possibilities that citizens would panic and as such, suggested that church leaders consult and present their opinion to the government.
In this regard, Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) General Secretary Rev Dr Zelhou Keyho was of the opinion that, “We are always very confused because our faith has become situational.”
Categorically stating that it does not condemn nor endorse anyone, Rev Keyho said that there are both ‘true and false prophecies’ and the only way to discern between them was through the word of God.
“We have the Bible the Word of God to test every spirit. We need God’s wisdom to discern right from wrong. And this is what we are lacking because we are easily swayed away and we get confused,” he maintained.
As Christians, ‘salvation’ is sealed in the work of Christ on the cross and, “To say that our salvation will be taken away because of a certain vaccination is contrary to the Bible and our Christian faith,” he added.
There may be doubts and apprehensions in the efficacy of the vaccine but “we leave that to the experts,” he said, while underscoring that, “Our role is to pray that God will use the vaccine to bring protection to the community.”
Making a call for all citizens to continue to praying for those who are infected and the sick under medical care, Rev Keyho urged the people, “not allow our faith to become a mockery,” and instead do what is needed to protect each other.