New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the COVID-19 vaccination drive needs to be taken door-to-door now and stressed the importance of completing the inoculation by taking the second dose. Cautioning against any laxity after surpassing the milestone of 1 billion vaccine doses, Modi said “a new crisis can come” and quoted a saying to assert that one should not underestimate “diseases and enemies as they should be fought till the very end”.
He called for equal attention to taking the second dose of the Covid vaccine, noting that whenever the cases of infection start decreasing, the feeling of urgency among people decreases.
Modi made the remarks as he interacted with district magistrates of over 40 districts spread across Jharkhand, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, and other states with districts having low vaccination coverage.
Talking about the issue of rumours and misunderstandings about Covid vaccination, he said awareness is the only solution for this and asked the state officials to take help from religious leaders in this regard.
The prime minister noted that religious leaders are very enthusiastic about the vaccination campaign.
Recalling his meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican a few days ago, he called for a special emphasis on taking the message of local religious leaders on vaccines to the public.
“Make short videos of them (local leaders) of 2-3 minutes and make their videos popular, make them reach every house,” Modi said.
Speaking to the officials, he urged them to change gears from making arrangements earlier for taking people to the vaccination centres and getting them safely vaccinated to now administering vaccines door-to-door.
Modi urged the health workers to reach every house with the passion of ‘har ghar tika, ghar-ghar tika’ (vaccine at every doorstep). He also urged the officials to work with the spirit of ‘har ghar dastak’ (knocking on every door) to ensure full vaccination of both doses. “Now we are preparing to take the vaccination campaign to each household. With the mantra of ‘har ghar dastak’, every household lacking the security net of a double dose of vaccine will be approached,” he said.
The prime minister cautioned that while reaching out to every house, equal attention needs to be paid to the second dose along with the first dose of the vaccine. “You will have to contact those people who have not taken the second dose despite the stipulated time on a priority basis…Ignoring this has created problems for many countries in the world,” he said.
He said Diwali is being celebrated after the important milestone of administering 1 billion doses and people should move forward with the resolve that they would celebrate Christmas after achieving new goals.
Immediately after returning from his visit to Italy and Glasgow to attend the G20 and COP 26 meetings, the prime minister held the review meeting which included officials of districts with less than 50 per cent coverage of the first dose and low coverage of the second dose of Covid vaccine. During the meeting, the district magistrates gave an account of the issues and challenges being faced in their districts, which has resulted in low vaccination coverage, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
They highlighted issues like rumours resulting in vaccine hesitancy, difficult terrain, and challenges created due to prevailing weather conditions in recent months, it said.
The officials also presented an account of the steps that have been taken by them till now to overcome these challenges and also shared good practises adopted by them which has led to increase in coverage.
During the interaction, the prime minister also discussed the issue of vaccine hesitancy and the local factors behind it in detail. He discussed a wide array of ideas that can be implemented for ensuring 100 per cent vaccination coverage in these districts.
Modi spoke about maximising community engagement through religious and community leaders, the statement said.
He exhorted all officials to ensure that the country widens its vaccination coverage by the end of the year and enters the new year with renewed self belief and confidence.
At the meeting, the Union Health Secretary gave an overview of the vaccination coverage in the country and also an account of balance vaccine dose availability in the states.
The official also talked about special vaccination campaigns being run in the states to further improve vaccination coverage.
Addressing the meeting, the prime minister thanked the present chief ministers and said that their attention will encourage the district to work with more determination.
Modi said in this biggest pandemic of the century, the country faced many challenges, but added that “one special thing in the country’s fight against Corona was that we found new solutions and tried innovative methods”.
He urged the administrators to work more on new innovative ways to increase vaccination in their districts.
Modi noted that even the better performing districts had similar challenges but they were met with determination and innovation. He asked the officials to develop micro strategies, keeping in mind the experience so far to go for saturation of vaccination by addressing the gaps at the local level.
Modi asked the district officials to make different strategies for each village, each town in the districts, if need be. “We all have many months of experience related to vaccination. We have learned a lot and even our Asha workers have also learned how to fight with an unknown enemy. Now you have to move ahead while making micro-strategy.
He suggested this can be done by forming a team of 20-25 people depending on the region. Modi also suggested trying to have a healthy competition in the teams that have been formed. Exhorting the officials to prepare region-wise timetables for local goals, the prime minister said, “You will have to do your best to take your districts nearer the national average.”
Modi also asked officials to take the help of NCC and NSS volunteers.
The prime minister suggested to the officials that they could take the help of women workers in the government, and women police personnel in the vaccination drive and sometimes take them along for this work for 5-7 days. He emphasised that under the ‘Free Vaccine for all’ campaign, India created a record of administering about 2.5 crore vaccine doses in a day, and said this feat bears testimony to India’s capabilities.
He asked the district officials to learn from good practices of their colleagues in better performing districts and emphasised approaches suitable for the local needs and the environment should be adopted.
Several chief ministers, including Maharashtra’s Uddhav Thackrey, and Chhattisgarh’s Bhupesh Baghel, were present at the meeting.
The prime minister lauded the chief ministers for their commitment to achieve the goal of 100 per cent vaccination in their respective states.
Modi also stressed on communication strategy for the vaccine drive, stressing the use of local language and dialects. “I am sure, with your joint efforts, the vaccination situation in your districts will improve very soon. Come, let us make the vaccine campaign successful by going door-to-door,” he said.
He also urged the people of the country to come forward and not only get themselves vaccinated but also work to get others vaccinated.