The Meghalaya government has decided to award Rs 5 lakh each to the first 100 villages that get their eligible population vaccinated by August 31.
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma made the announcement in Shillong on Sunday in his Independence Day speech, devoted mostly to the challenges posed by Covid-19 and the government steps to check its spread.
“An amount of Rs 5 lakh will be given to every such village (which meets 100 per cent vaccination target) for carrying out development work,” Sangma said as part of the government step to remove vaccine hesitancy.
According to Sangma, though cases are on the decline compared to the peak in May, positivity rates continue to be high. Since the onset of Covid-19 last year, Meghalaya has detected over 71,000 positive cases and lost over 1,200 lives, a major worry for the government and the trigger to people vaccinated.
“Despite the understanding that Covid-19 vaccination is crucial for protection against severe disease and death, the progress of Covid-19 vaccination in the state is sadly unsatisfactory. As on date only 47% of eligible individuals have taken at least their first dose. There is considerable vaccine hesitancy in the State especially in the rural areas largely due to misinformation,” Sangma said.
Along with vaccine hesitancy, Meghalaya is also confronted with refusal for testing and delays in seeking medical attention by infected persons.
“Studies and statistics world over as well as practical evidence have indicated that the impact of Covid-19 has not been severe on persons who have been vaccinated. Vaccines give protection from serious illness and death,” Sangma said, hailing the efforts of the frontline workers, police force and civil officials to check Covid-19.
Nagaland chief minister N. Rio and his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga too dedicated a significant part of their speeches to the impact of Covid and the government and community’s resolve to check the infection.
Both of them urged the public to get themselves vaccinated. All the three chief ministers also spoke about finding an amicable solution to their inter-state border disputes with Assam.