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Health workers at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 will be the first to get the vaccine in Bihar once it is available. Image Credit: AFP

Patna: Health workers at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 will be the first to get the vaccine in Bihar once it is available, the state government says.

Authoritative sources said the health department is already preparing a database of doctors, health workers and even hospital cleaning staff who are likely to get the vaccination in the first phase. Reports said the health department’s additional secretary Manoj Kumar has asked the civil surgeons of all the 38 districts in the state to prepare a list of frontline warriors who have been providing medical help to coronavirus patients without caring for their own lives.

In the light of this instruction, the civil surgeon offices in the state are currently busy preparing the list of the health workers who are working both in government-run hospitals and in the private healthcare centres. As per a rough estimate, the total number of such health workers is more than 400,000 in Bihar.

“We have already begun preparations to vaccinate the people against COVID-19. In the first phase, we are preparing the list of health workers and it will be ready within a week,” Patna civil surgeon Vibha Kumari told the media on Thursday. Reports said the details include the names of health workers, their complete address, age and identity proofs.

Health minister Mangal Pandey too has said the government has launched preparation to develop a cold chain to store COVID-19 vaccines so that they are easily available even in the rural areas and the common masses don’t have to rush to the urban areas to get themselves vaccinated. Officials said the government is arranging for an adequate number of deep freezers and ice boxes to safely store the vaccines.

Available to the masses

“Our prime focus right now is how to rush the vaccines to the maximum number of people for which we are developing a system and also properly arranging the cold chain,” the health minister said. He said the vaccines would be made available to the masses according to the age-groups.

There are also reports that quite many health professionals are now reluctant to get the first doses of vaccines, perhaps apprehensive of their consequences. Reports are that many private hospitals have sent the list only a few health staff to the government while several others have not even sent the list of their staff for vaccinations.

COVID-19 has claimed 1,274 lives in Bihar apart from infecting 236,778 others. Of the total dying from coronavirus, quite many of them are doctors who died while treating the COVID-19 patients. According to a latest report of the Bihar unit of the Indian Medical Association, a total of 38 doctors have died due to coronavirus infection till December 2.

Prominent among them include Dr NK Singh, ENT specialist, Dr Mithilesh Kumar Singh, radiologist, both form Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), Dr Rati Raman Jha, civil surgeon posted in Samastipur district, Dr Awadhesh Prasad Singh and Dr Sanjeev Kumar, physicians, Dr Mahendra Chaudhary, orthopaedist, Dr Awadh Kishore Prasad, head of the department of physiology at Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), and Dr VBP Sinha.

Patna high court has voiced serious concern over the way the common people have been openly violating the COVID-19 safety norms and has advised them to bring a change in their attitude. “The people of Bihar, perhaps, think coronavirus is gone but this is not the truth. They have to be told how deadlier this disease is and they needed to be made aware about how to save themselves from the coronavirus,” the court observed on Wednesday while hearing a case.