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Health workers to be deployed to help elderly get jabs in rural areas

Kolkata: Keeping its promise to provide free-of-cost jabs to the entire populace of Bengal, the state government has now taken up the initiative to deploy ASHA, ANM workers, members of Self-Help Groups and Panchayat staff in remote rural areas to identify elderly people for vaccination.

According to Health department sources, health workers would be deployed to ensure that senior citizens from rural areas where there is no presence of the Internet do not face any difficulties to receive vaccines. In the urban areas, people have better access to Internet facilities and can enrol for vaccination on the latest version of the CoWIN app. In the remote areas, however, the scopes are limited, hence this alternative measure has been adopted to ensure free vaccines among the elderly. The Union Health ministry has already issued directives to the state government saying that vaccination for those above 60 or between 45 and 59 having comorbidities would begin from March 1.

The state Health department has already taken initiatives to enrol the names of the senior citizens from March 1.

According to the Centre's guidelines, people would have to pay around Rs 300 per dose in addition to Rs 100 which would be collected as service charges from the recipients if they receive the vaccine from private health establishments. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier said that vaccines would be given to people free of costs. Now, people would get the vaccine at free-of-cost. But in the case of those who opt for private health establishments, they will have to pay for the vaccines as per the instruction of the Centre.

The Chief Minister had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi a few days ago saying that the state seeks to buy vaccines from the Centre's designated agency. The main purpose behind the move is to vaccinate its people free-of-cost. Sources in the Health department said workers would visit houses of people in the rural areas and collect data related to senior members of the family. The elderly would be given a choice of selecting their vaccination centres. They will have to produce an ID card at the vaccination centre. People can also select their vaccination sites by visiting the second version of the CoWIN app. People will get the option of both government and private hospitals as vaccination centres on the same app.

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