At a time when the COVID-19 caseload is rising across several parts of the country and five Indian states are getting ready for assembly elections process starting on March 27th , the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has come up with a note of caution.
Dr J A Jayalal, national president of the IMA speaking to Financial Express Online, says not only do the polling officers need to be vaccinated but even all the polling agents at the booth need to be vaccinated. He says, it is also important to ensure the infrastructure at the polling station – in terms of the building and the surroundings are salubrious. “The building needs to have adequate ventilation,” he insists. Also, periodical fumigation and sanitation of the surroundings need to be undertaken and provisions made to ensure sanitization of voting machines, since these will be frequently touched. Dr Jayalal, who refers to IMA’s huge base of medical professionals with its “3.4 lakh doctors as active (practicing) members out of a total of around 12 lakh registered doctors in the country,” says care needs to be also taken to see that the footfall time and contact time of people is reduced to the maximum at the polling booth. “The footfall within the booth should not be more than 15 minutes per person,” he says.
The IMA, Dr Jayalal points out, has put out a note alerting that it is time all look to testing, tracing and treatment to overcome the rising COVID-19 caseload. In the note, the IMA talks in favour of the vaccination and to “spiritually adopt the principles of COVID-appropriate behaviour like physical distancing, hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and appropriate masking to protect the people from the spread of infection.” It also sees a case to promote speeding up of the vaccination drive and to “even to the extent of providing it at the doorstep without any payment.”
Some of the doctors that Financial Express Online spoke to also felt the need to hasten up the vaccination drive and open up the age bracket to inoculate more. As one doctor pointed out “typically those in the age group of 30 to 45 years tend to get infected the most as they happen to be the working population which sadly has to encounter the maximum exposure to the infection and therefore they all need to be targeted at the earliest.” In fact, he feels, in some of the hotspots like Maharashtra, Punjab and other regions, the age limit should be lowered even further and those 30 years and above should be vaccinated and to avoid rush, there could be staggered time depending on the age so that those that are 30 years and above and also those that are 50 years and above all get innoculated. Fortunately, for India, the doctors say, there seems no supply shortages of vaccines, which unfortunately is a challenge most countries are facing today.