THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With assembly elections near, another uphill task awaits health authorities who are already burdened with the mission to improve the coverage of vaccination among healthcare workers and thousands of frontline workers in the state. Officials said the health authorities have been asked to complete Covid-19 vaccination for around two lakh officials who would be on poll duty during the assembly elections.
The State Election Commission has asked health authorities to complete vaccination for poll officials by March 31. The state authorities have requested the Centre to allot more vaccines for the purpose. However, apprehensions loom large among district health authorities as they are already struggling with vaccination of frontline workers. The plan is to open more session sites to cover poll officials who would be registered for vaccination.
The Election Commission has directed respective district collectors to submit a list of officials who would be involved in the election process from their district for vaccination.The DMOs have started entering the data of the officials for vaccination. Recently, the Centre had issued an order directing health authorities to prioritise poll officials as frontline workers. An official said there are around 68,000 poll officials in Thiruvananthapuram district alone.
“It took nearly one month for us to cover 65,000 health workers and we have to complete the first dose of the vaccination for poll officials within 10 days so that they can be given the second dose after 28 days. We have been asked to complete the vaccination by March 31.
We are already struggling with limited resources. We have started data entry of poll officials for vaccination. It’s a huge burden as we have very limited resources. Correcting errors is another task we have to deal with. We have no idea whether we would be able to complete the data entry of all poll officials before the deadline,” said an official involved in the vaccination drive in the capital.
An official of the Chief Electoral Office (CEO) told TNIE that every official who would be part of assembly election would be in the priority list of the vaccination drives.“The district collectors would be handing over the list to the district medical office. We had given strict directions to health authorities to finish the data entry of poll officials by February 21.
The Centre would be giving more vaccines to cover the poll officials,” the official said. An official of the Thiruvananthapuram District Medical Office (DMO) said that the state capital has the most number of election officials.“The state election officials are also stationed here. Police camps are here. We will have to start more session sites. We have already covered a small section of the poll officials who are already in the front line workers list,” said an official.
Drive to begin today
The Covid-19 vaccination for polling officials for the state assembly elections will begin on Tuesday. Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena will be the first poll official to be vaccinated at a function to be held at the Election Office at 10.45am. Then, the office staff will then be vaccinated.
68,000 poll officials in T’Puram district alone