NEW DELHI :
DAYS after assessing the COVID-19 situation in the five poll-bound States, the Election Commission (EC) has asked them to step up the inoculation drive against the viral disease and ensure that the personnel to be deployed on election duty are “double vaccinated”. In a recent letter to the chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur and Punjab, the EC has also reminded the five States that polling personnel come under the category of frontline workers and are eligible for the “precaution dose” of the COVID vaccines, sources said. The commission has said the polling personnel to be deployed in these States should be fully vaccinated and those eligible for the second dose of the vaccines should be administered the jabs on a priority basis, the sources said citing the letter. While the tenure of the Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly ends in May, the terms of the legislative assemblies of Goa, Manipur and Punjab end on different dates in March.
The EC is likely to announce the poll dates for the five States in the first half of this month. The personnel to be deployed on election duty in the five poll-bound States will be included in the category of frontline workers and will be entitled to the “precaution dose” of the COVID-19 vaccines, the Union Health Ministry had said a few days ago. In a letter to the States and Union territories, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said the personnel to be deployed on election duty in the poll-bound States will be included in the category of frontline workers. “As a matter of abundant precaution, for those healthcare workers and frontline workers who have received two doses, another dose of COVID-19 vaccine would be provided from January 10, 2022.
“The prioritisation and sequencing of this precaution dose would be based on the completion of nine months i.e. 39 weeks from the date of administration of the second dose,” he had said in the letter. The EC, along with Bhushan, had assessed the COVID situation in the five States on December 27 and asked the Government to expedite the vaccination programme in these States. It had noted that the percentage of those who have received the first dose of the vaccines was still less in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Manipur, while it was nearing 100 per cent in Uttarakhand and Goa. The poll panel had also asked the Union health secretary to expedite the administration of the second dose of the vaccine to those eligible in these five States.