The Tripura High Court has lauded the efforts of health and frontline workers in the state and also participation of general public in receiving sufficient vaccination doses, while observing that there is little or no vaccine hesitancy in the state.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice S Talapatra on Monday heard a suo motu PIL on Covid-19 management.
“We had referred to a public statement made by Siddharth Shib Jaiswal, Mission Director of National Health Mission, Tripura, which was published by local newspapers on June 25, 2021, giving details of vaccination in the state. Finding the claim that 80 percent of the entire eligible population of the state and 98 percent of the population over 45 years had received the first dose of vaccination by then to be inaccurate, we had requested the Mission Director to clarify and also to correct the position in this respect. Pursuant to this order, the Mission Direction had made a public statement on July 12, 2021”.
The Court further said that from the affidavit filed on July 17, 2021 of the Mission Director, “We gather that as on July 13, 2021, almost 100 percent of the state’s population over 45 years had received the first dose of vaccine. Likewise, 57 percent population in the age group of 18-44 years had received the first dose. Together, 79.45 percent of the total eligible population had been administered first dose of vaccine. 55.59 percent population above the age group of 45 had received the second dose as well.
“These figures are quite impressive and could not have been achieved without selfless and tireless work put in by the health workers and the frontline workers, nor could have been achieved without the whole-hearted participation of the population of the State. The very fact that 100 percent of the population over 45 years of age has volunteered to receive the vaccines, would show that there is little or no vaccine hesitancy in our State. This would imply that given a steady and sufficient supply of vaccine doses, large scale vaccination can be carried out effectively in coming months”, the Court observed.
The Court was also informed that a helpline number has been installed to assist in registration of those people for vaccination, who do not have easy access to internet facilities.
The Advocate General stated under instructions that this helpline has been made operational. Giving wide publicity to this facility would enable the population in need of such support to access it.
The Court stated, “We are talking of an issue of such importance in the sphere of healthcare, it is not all about sheer numbers. It is equally important to ensure that the treatment covers even the marginalised and under privileged section of the society, who perhaps needs it more than others. We, therefore, request the state government to ensure widest publicity to this helpline facility and the helpline numbers.
“Before closing, we may touch on one more aspect emerging from the public information distribution system. As is well-known, on July 9, 2021, Deep Debbarma, State Surveillance Officer under the Director of Health and Family Welfare, had stated that out of 151 samples of Covid positive patients sent for laboratory analysis, in as many as 138 Delta Plus Variants was detected. On the next day, the Government of India issued a statement that none of the samples out of 151 which were analysed by the Central Laboratory, had detected Delta Plus Variant. We do not have an official statement on the reasons for such discrepancy.
“We only observe that official public communications by responsible State officials must carry accurate information. Such inadvertent inaccuracy in public statements undermines the confidence of people in the data being supplied and in cases like the present one, has the propensity to spread fear. We stop at that,” the order read.