Personnel to be deployed on election duty in the five poll-bound states will be included in the category of frontline workers and would be entitled to the precaution dose of COVID-19 vaccine, amid growing indications that the elections may be held on time.
The Election Commission is likely to announce the dates of assembly elections for Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur early next month.
In a letter to states and UTs, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Tuesday that personnel to be deployed in election duty in the poll-bound states will be included in the category of frontline workers.
“As a matter of abundant precaution, for those healthcare workers and frontline workers who have received two doses, another dose of COVID-19 vaccine would be provided from January 10, 2022.
“The prioritisation and sequencing of this precaution dose would be based on the completion of nine months i.e. 39 weeks from the date of administration of the second dose,” he said in the letter.
On Monday, the EC had assessed the COVID-19 situation in the five poll-bound states with Union Health Secretary Bhushan and had asked the government to expedite the vaccination programme there.
The Commission had noted that the percentage of those administered the first dose of coronavirus vaccine was still less in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur, while it was nearing 100 percent in Uttarakhand and Goa.
The poll panel also asked Health Secretary to expedite the administering of the second dose to those eligible in these five election-bound states, highly-placed sources had said.
Separately, the Union health ministry issued a statement later on Monday, saying the Centre has reviewed public health response measures and vaccination status with the poll-bound states.
The ministry has advised ramping up vaccination of all eligible population through a district-wise weekly plan with daily review, according to the statement.
The health ministry statement said testing is to be “exponentially accelerated” to curb the sudden surge of COVID cases.
“While Uttarakhand and Goa have reported vaccination coverage for the first and second doses higher than the national average, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur have COVID-19 vaccination coverage numbers below the national average,” it said.
The states, the statement said, have been advised to speedily ramp up COVID-19 vaccination of all eligible population for the first dose and ensure that those who were due for the second dose are administered the dose.
District-wise weekly vaccination implementation plans are required to be drawn up for this purpose, the five states were told.