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Omicron Alone Crosses 2K, Fear Intensifies Jab Drive For Teens

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By: Gopal Puri | Neelabh Bafna
Updated: January 5, 2022 14:03
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NEW DELHI/HIMACHAL PRADESH: India’s Omicron tally went past the 2000-mark on Tuesday with 153 more cases taking the total number of patients to 2,043. The variant is now spread across 24 states and UTs in the country with fresh cases being recorded in Meghalaya, taking the final tally of fresh Covid cases to 58,097. This is the single highest surge since the pandemic began.

As India launched a Covid-19 vaccination drive for the age group of 15-18 on Monday, over 4 million kids received their first dose with many of the guardians and their parents saying they feel a sense of relief, especially with the imminent threat of an impending third wave.

“Congrats to all my young friends between the age group of 15-18 who got vaccinated. Congrats to their parents as well. I would urge more youngsters to get vaccinated in the coming days!” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

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Himachal Pradesh emerged as the national frontrunner in terms of vaccinating teenagers between 15 and 18 years of age, HP Chief Minister Jairam Thakur informed while talking about the vaccination drive for this age group in Shimla today.

Achieving this target would also depend upon the number of teenagers vaccinated today, he said, adding that the aim was to vaccinate at least 3 lakh children. The vaccination drive was conducted across the state in 2891 government schools, 1,402 private schools, and 56 other organisations. Teens will be administered the second dose of the vaccine 84 days following the first shot.

Voicing concern over the rapid rise in the number of cases in the state, the Chief Minister informed that these were particularly high in Pandoh and Bilaspur where a large number of children had tested positive for the virus.

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In such an ominous situation, vaccines are the only hope, he said. He stated that the state government had approached the Centre on the setting up of a hi-tech laboratory particularly for detailed testing of such viruses in the state. Himachal has only one such laboratory at present. He hoped that this would become a reality in the near future.

Assam, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Odisha, Karnataka, West Bengal, Puducherry, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh were among the other states and Union territories that began the drive on Monday.

“We have to hold the vaccination drive on a war footing. Crisis management committees, MPs, MLAs, social workers, volunteers, religious leaders, all are requested to appeal to the children to get vaccinated,” Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said.

In Gujarat, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel launched the drive at a school in the Koba area of the state capital Gandhinagar.

The Gujarat health department has prepared about 3,500 centers all across the state for the vaccination drive and has said it will extend the daily timings of the drive from the current schedule of 9 am to 6 pm.

In Maharashtra, as the state frontiers prepare for the third wave, a multitude of the schools and junior colleges opened doors so kids from the 15-18 age group could get vaccinated. As per the Centre’s policy, the government launched the vaccination drive for the 15-18 age groups and over 8,00,000 have already registered for their dose in the past few days.

While in Punjab, with more than 16,000 paramedics, health workers have gone on strike demanding a pay hike, vaccination for kids in the 15-18 age group is likely to get less traction. As the majority of the staff is on strike, only a few thousand are working have been recruited in less than five-year tenures, the staff crunch has also affected Covid-19 testing in the state as the daily testing numbers have been around 16,00 despite instructions to do up to 40,000 tests.

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