Nagaland, May 31: Covid-19 vaccination drive in Nagaland is lagging behind with only 268,628 doses administered to date – the lowest among the northeast states and the health officials are blaming vaccine hesitancy among residents aged above 45 years as one major reason1

In contrast, Manipur and Assam have administered 451,259 and 4,094,259 vaccine doses respectively.

Vaccine availability is not an issue but the problem is there are fewer takers, particularly among age groups above 45 years, due to various reasons,” said Dr Ritu Thurr, state immunization officer, directorate of health and family welfare.

He said despite the awareness campaign, residents in these age groups are resisting and adopting a “wait and watch” approach, mainly due to rumours and fake news circulating on social media platforms, casting doubts over the efficacy of vaccines.

On the other hand, the youth are eager to get vaccinated, giving out hope that this trend would increase converting those who are hesitant at the moment, the officer said.

The demand for vaccine doses shot up after the drive was expanded on May 17 for residents aged 18 years and above. Health officials in Nagaland say there has been a steady increase in daily vaccination since then.

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Out of the 214,464 people who have been vaccinated in the state, 54,127 beneficiaries have also received the second dose of the vaccine, the officer said.

Dr Thurr added that the state initially procured 36,580 vaccine doses for the 18-44 years age group but due to its high demand, the department was releasing fewer daily slots as it awaits the arrival of the next batch of 40,700 doses, expected by the first week of June. As on Sunday, Nagaland had 129,690 doses of Covishield left in its stock.

On Sunday, Nagaland’s Covid-19 caseload increased to 21,563 with the detection of 192 new cases and the death toll rose to 363 after 13 more Covid-19 patients succumbed to the infection, health minister S Pangyu Phom said.

The state has 5,049 active patients while 15,523 people have recovered from the infection so far, he added.