West Bengal to vaccinate college, university students before reopening educational institutions
The West Bengal government is planning to vaccinate college and university students before reopening educational institutions expectedly in November, officials said.
The state health secretary has sent a letter to his counterpart in the state higher education department, district magistrates and chief medical officers of health in the districts to expedite the vaccination of eligible students.
“With a view of possible restarting of offline instructions in colleges and universities, it has been decided to vaccinate all students of such higher education institutions at the earliest possible. The vaccination drive will be organised by the health department in coordination with the higher education department,” the letter stated.
While the Durga Puja starts this year from October 11, the immersion process would continue till October 17. The puja vacation in West Bengal continues till Bhai Dooj or Bhai Phonta every year. This year, however, schools, colleges and universities, which are now suspended due to Covid-19, are likely to reopen after the puja vacation
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee earlier hinted at allowing schools and colleges to reopen after the Puja vacation in November, depending upon the pandemic situation.
The DMs and CMOHs have been directed to hold coordination meetings with college and university authorities for planning early Covid-19 vaccination of the students. The vaccination drive may be conducted at the existing vaccination centres or college and university campuses.
Some universities in the state have already set the ball rolling for the reopening of the universities. Dean of students, coordinators, medical officers and other heads have been asked to undertake necessary inspections and set up health centres at the campus so that classes may be resumed as soon as the government gives the green light.
Information is also being collected from students and scholars about their vaccination status so that vaccination drives may be launched before classes resume.
While West Bengal has administered 5,35,59,220 doses till date, around 2,54,81,735 jabs have been given to people in the age group 18 – 44 years, including students.
“We had identified some groups which were more vulnerable or could act as super-spreaders in the age group 18 – 44 years such as drivers, hawkers, jail inmates and sex workers among others who were vaccinated first,” said a senior health official.
With the festive season around the corner, the West Bengal government has ramped up its vaccination drive in rural areas ahead of the festive season. Between April 1 and September 18, around 20.3 million doses were administered in rural areas while 10.8 million doses have been given in urban areas.