Eighty percent of COVID-19 cases in India are reported from 90 districts of which 14 are in the northeastern states, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday and underlined that “the second wave is not yet over and we should not let our guard down”. Highlighting specific challenges linked to the northeastern states, Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal, said the Government of India has supported these states by following a “proactive, preemptive and a graded approach” to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Agarwal was speaking at a workshop organised by the Union Health Ministry in partnership with UNICEF for media professionals and health correspondents of northeastern states on the current coronavirus situation in India, the need to bust myths about vaccines and vaccination and to reinforce the importance of COVID-19-appropriate behaviour. Media professionals and health correspondents of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura participated in the workshop virtually, a Union Health Ministry statement said.
Highlighting India’s COVID-19 management strategy, the statement quoting Agarwal said there are three important components in the fight against coronavirus — community ownership of Covid-appropriate behaviour, evidence-based reporting and busting myths about the virus and vaccination.
He also shared the details of active cases and the status of vaccination drive in the north-eastern states. Acknowledging the media as an important stakeholder in creating an enabling environment for Covid vaccination by busting myths as well as fears and apprehensions surrounding vaccination, he said over 36.48 crore vaccine doses have been administered in the country till date. He urged media persons to create a Jan Andolan (public movement) by applauding community warriors as role- models.
Besides various reasons for vaccine hesitancy, which may be local and could vary for different community groups, the workshop highlighted adverse event following immunization (AEFI), its management, and the best practices while reporting on AEFI, the statement said. He also said media persons are major influencers of the society as they can encourage people to get vaccinated and follow Covid-appropriate behaviour. Agarwal said the media plays a constructive role in overcoming vaccine hesitancy by busting myths and fake news that is widely shared on social media platforms, the statement said.