Senior citizens and specially-abled persons will be given Covid-10 vaccine under the ‘near home’ vaccination drive in Darjeeling district now. A “WhatsApp chatbot” will be launched for Hill residents to help them book slots for their vaccine doses, officials said here today. The proposed ‘near home’ drive, which is scheduled to begin next week, is meant for those aged over 70 years  and differently-abled persons.

The Liver Foundation in Kolkata, which focuses on liver ailments and other public health issues, and Siliguri Welfare Organisation will jointly conduct the vaccination drive. The health department will provide the vaccines, while the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) is set to coordinate the drive. According to Darjeeling district chief medical officer of health Dr Pralay Acharya, vaccination centres will be set up in various localities.

“The vaccination drive will be conducted in the localities through the centres to administer jabs to persons aged over 70 years and those who are specially-abled. The drive will start as early as next week,” Dr Acharya said.

Health department officials said the initiative had been approved in order to make the vaccine accessible to aged and specially-abled persons, who have limited mobility. According to the chairperson of the board of administrators of the SMC, Gautam Deb, the civic body was preparing a data of such beneficiaries.

Mr Deb said a pilot project had been taken up for Hill residents, where they could book their vaccine slots through WhatsApp. Sources have said that a person must send the number of a government photo identity card, such as Aadhaar, to the designated WhatsApp number. They will report to the centre after booking a particular time, with confirmation messages.

“They will not need to stand in queues for hours to get the Covid shots,” a source said. Mr Deb said efforts were made for aggressive vaccination in view of the possible third wave. “There are 10 urban primary health centres for all the 47 wards, and there are plans to set up 10 more alternative vaccine sites to reach out to the remote areas in all the wards. In Darjeeling district, 4.5 lakh people have been vaccinated so far. There was a target to vaccinate 90,000 from 19 priority groups, of which 70,000 have been vaccinated. The vaccination for eight more groups will begin,” Mr Deb said after a meeting the senior administrative and health department officials over the Covid-19 vaccination here today.

202 new Covid cases in Darjeeling district

The Siliguri Municipal Corporation, including areas of the 14 wards that fall in Jalpaiguri district, recorded 91 new Covid-19 cases today. Darjeeling district registered 202 cases in total, sources said. Meanwhile, 277 persons recovered either in home isolation or in government facilities in the past 24 hours. Takdah counted 25 cases, Matigara 19, Naxalbari 18, Bijanbari 16, Sukna 12, Mirik eight, seven cases each in Kharibari and Darjeeling Municipality, Sukhia Pokhari five, Phansidewa four, Kurseong Municipality two and Mirik Municipality one case.

Covid patients die

Around five persons, who had tested positive for Covid19, died in Siliguri in the past 24 hours. Sources said four persons died at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital and another person at a Matigara-based hospital.