Election panel pulls up Punjab, Manipur for low vaccination rate

Election panel pulls up Punjab, Manipur for low vaccination rate
The Election Commission has pulled up Punjab and Manipur administration on their low-vaccination rates, even as the states go to election early next month.

The poll panel is learnt to have asked them to expedite both first and second dose vaccination on a top priority.

Uttar Pradesh has also been asked to increase its second dose vaccination, in a review meeting held on January 15, ET has learnt.

The EC will take a decision on any further relaxations on rallies and campaigns depending on level of vaccination coverage, sources told ET.

As per government figures, while 78% people had received their first dose by January 15 in Punjab, only 46% had got their second dose in the state. The state’s positivity rate and case fatality rate are also high.

Manipur is equally worrying with only 57% people receiving the first dose and only 43% the second dose.

Manipur has argued that the voter vaccination level is higher at 66% and 52%, respectively for first and second dose coverage, but the EC has found even these figures low. The slow vaccination uptake in the two states is also borne out in the 15-18 age group – at 5% and 8% in Punjab and Manipur, respectively. In Uttar Pradesh, while the first dose coverage is encouraging at near 92%, its second dose coverage at 56% needs improvement, the EC is learnt to have clearly conveyed to the state.

The the 15-18 age group, UP has seen 31% coverage so far. Uttarakhand and Goa, on the other hand, have done well on the vaccination front with 98.8% and 100% first dose coverage, respectively. Their second dose coverage is at 85% and 93%, respectively. Even their vaccination coverage for the 15-18 age group is more than 53%.

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The poll panel has barred all physical rallies, pad yatras and vehicle rallies until January 22 in view of the Omicron threat.

It is closely watching two metrics–vaccination coverage and hospitalisation rate in the five poll bound states–before deciding on any further tightening or relaxation of its Covid-19 campaign guidelines and restrictions.

As per government inputs, hospitalisation rate has not been worrisome so far.

The Covid-19 death rate and case fatality ratio are also not a cause for worry, as per data up to January 15.

As compared to an all-India CFR of 0.24%, Uttar Pradesh had a CRF of 0.04%, Uttarakhand 0.12% and Punjab 0.17%. It was a higher at 1.08% in Manipur and 0.11% in Goa until January 15.

Increasing positivity is not a big concern area currently. Over the first two weeks of January, positivity rate was the highest at 30% in Goa, 10.7% in Punjab, 6% in Uttarakhand, 3.2% in Manipur and 2.45% in UP.

A special watch, in fact, is being kept on UP. 20 districts were found to have a weekly positivity rate of above 5% in the 8-14th January period with the highest figures in districts adjoining Delhi.

These were key concerns on which the EC had decided to continue the ban on physical rallies until January 22.

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