The state health department, which plans to start Covid-19 vaccination in the tea gardens of the Dooars, has convened a meeting here on Thursday to discuss issues related to the task.
“We want to start vaccination in the tea gardens in the districts of Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri districts and have invited the stakeholders, particularly tea planters’ associations and tea trade unions, for the meeting. We will discuss modalities and make decisions to clear deterrents so that the vaccination drive is smooth,” said Sushanta Roy, the officer on special duty for Covid-19 in north Bengal.
In the Dooars, around 10 lakh people live in tea estates.
According to sources in the health department, though vaccination of people aged above 60 years have started across the country, it has been found that tea garden residents are facing problems in registering themselves for the jab through cowin.gov.in.
“Many elderly residents are not accustomed to smartphones. Also, in a number of gardens, Internet connectivity is poor. We need to explore effective alternatives to ease the registration process,” said a source.
He also said that based on the location of the gardens, the nearest health centre or hospital where vaccination can be held has to be identified and intimated to people concerned.
“Tea associations can play a major role in disseminating this information. The managerial staff of the gardens can help workers and their families know how they should register themselves and get vaccinated,” the source added.
The health department has also come to know that in the brew belt there are fears over the side-effects of the vaccine among some. This is where they intend to engage tea trade unions. “It is necessary to clear doubts to encourage more and more people to take the jab,” said a health official.
Sanjoy Bagchi, secretary of the Dooars branch of Indian Tea Association, said they would give all necessary help to the health officials for the vaccination and share ideas at the meeting to ease the process.