Earlier this week, I finally got my first dose of CoVid-19 vaccine. Yayyy.
Since then, I've been developing symptoms of fever, headache, fatigue, as well as new abilities to attract metallic objects (magnet test confirmed) and even see through physical bodies (X-Ray vision confirmed). OMG, the conspiracy theorists were correct! I've transformed into a superhero!
Just kidding. If I suddenly did gain new superpower to see through things, it would be to see through other people's bullshit. The number of anti-vaxxers in Mizoram is alarmingly high, especially for a state that prides itself to be the second most literate state in India. But I'll talk about that in another post.
The vaccination drive in Mizoram started from January this year, when the first batch of "Covishield" arrived at Lengpui airport on the 14th of Jan [source: DD News]
[image source: DD News]
Doctors and other Health Care workers were the first group to be vaccinated in Mizoram, followed by Front Line workers, which included all essential personnel from Local Level Task Force members and Police to Sanitation workers and Politicians.
As of yesterday, 4th June 2021, according to DIPR Mizoram website, the total number of doses administered in Mizoram so far is 3,17,566 (first dose: 2,65,375 and completed dose: 52,191).
With that, the percentage of people in Mizoram who got their first dose from the above data is 19.9% and those who had completed two doses is 3.9% [see footnotes].
Though the percentages are still very low, considering the vaccination drive started 6 months ago, they are at least slightly better than the current National average, which stands at 12.6% and 3.2% respectively.
Being a close-knitted community, most of us Mizos would know at least one person who had taken the vaccine during the first or second vaccination drive. As for me, my first experience with the vaccine came on 12th April when our locality loud speakers announced that people above 60 years could take their first shot of the vaccine.
I took my mom and two aunts from our colony to our locality vaccination center, which was held at our Chaltlang Presbyterian Church hall.
Once inside, the Health Care workers took down their Aadhaar card numbers and registered them. One of my aunts didn't have an Aadhaar card, and so they accepted her EPIC card instead.
After that, it was time to wait. Here are my two sweet aunts (mom's elder sis and younger sis) waiting for their turn to be called inside the vaccination room.
After sometime, a doctor ushered them inside the room and made them sit in a semi-circle. The doctor informed them about various instructions to take in case they started feeling feverish after the vaccination and they all listened attentively.
They were all quickly vaccinated, and from there, they moved to the next room, which was the observation room. Below on the left is my mom waiting inside the observation room.
As newly vaccinated people entered the observation room, their names were taken down and a doctor and nurse observed them for any discomfort or irregular pain. The rest of us who drove them to the center had to wait outside the room.
Every now and then, the nurse on duty would read out a list of names of those who had completed their 30 minutes observation time, and such people could leave the room. My mom and aunts too walked out of the observation room once their names were called out, and we drove them back home. That was it. Vaccination done for the 60+ category.
On 19th April, our locality loud speakers once again announced that people between the age of 45 and 60 could take their first dose of vaccine, and so my eldest sister went to the same place to get vaccinated. I didn't go with her as she didn't require a vehicle to reach the place. She too went through the same process as above.
And with that, the 45-60 years category was completed too.
However, for the next batch, that is, 18-44 years category, it was quite a long wait. After a deafening silence of almost a month, on 17th May, our state government announced that vaccines were finally available for the 18-44 age group. Finally, my turn. :D
However, unlike the two age groups above where walk-in vaccinations were conducted at our respective localities, we had to follow a different procedure.
We couldn't just walk to our local vaccine center, show them our Aadhaar card and get a vaccine. Nopes. Instead, we had to register at CoWIN portal, and once our registration was confirmed, we had to book our slot at a designated center at a given time on a given date that was announced by the government.
It was basically a "fastest finger" contest, or a "fastest internet speed" contest if you consider how bad our network speed is in many areas in Mizoram.
After two failed attempts to book an appointment, on 31st May, my niece Tomi and I waited in front of our computer from 7:30 AM, ready to press the button at 8 AM the moment the portal went live.
At 8:00 AM sharp, we pressed the button and got through! It took us around a minute to fill up just one registration itself because of the captcha code and stuff, and we were able to book a slot for my sister Dinpuii and Tomi successfully. However we couldn't book it in time for my other niece Mamuani and me, as all the slots were filled up by 8:03 AM.
But we decided to try our luck at the vaccine center since we felt that having a mix of vaccinated and non-vaccinated people living under the same roof could create problems in the future, and so Mamuani and I went with my sister and Tomi to the vaccination center. In Mizo, we would call this, "Vaccine ka va risk a". :P
I went and got a permit from our Local Council office to leave our locality since the designated vaccination center was located at Tuikual.
And so, all of us went to Tuikual, with our fingers crossed.
The road to Tuikual vaccination center was, to be frank, unpleasant. The road was extremely narrow and we were stuck at least 10 times because of vehicles coming from the opposite direction. Once we reached our destination, Tuikual Presbyterian Church hall, we stood in line.
And then one of the officials came outside and announced that ONLY those people who had registered and booked a slot for that day were allowed to get their vaccines. There were a few sighs of disappointment and some people turned back. My sister and Tomi continued standing in line, while Mamuani and I walked away in dismay.
My sister and Tomi were allowed inside once they showed their slot confirmation booking. They were each assigned a token number.
Their vaccination went off successfully.
My sister told me that a few people in their batch had left without taking their vaccines because the doctor announced a list of eligibility criteria to take the vaccine, like those who were recently hospitalized or pregnant couldn't take the vaccine, and so there was some chance that there might be leftover vaccines! And so Mamuani and I waited...
We saw a couple of other people waiting for leftover vaccines too, but most of them eventually gave up and went home. I guess they weren't persistent enough.
Finally, after waiting for more than 5 hours, the clock struck 3 PM, which was the last allocated time slot.
As the officials started packing up their registers and devices, we approached them and asked if it was possible to get leftover vaccines. They looked at each other and finally the one I presumed must be the leader (who was wearing a Tribe Fiction T-shirt) politely told us that this was highly irregular and that we shouldn't do things like this blah blah blah, and then asked us if we were registered at CoWIN, and we both said "yes" in unison. And then he asked us if we had our Aadhaar cards with us and again we replied with a "yes".
He then took a long dramatic sigh and finally said that since we had come from such a far locality and were waiting the whole day, he was allowing us to enter! And so they opened the gate for us and we ran inside jubilantly while thanking him profusely. :D
Ahhhh... it felt so good to be a Mizo. If I was pulling the same stunt somewhere else in India, the only way I could have entered inside was if somebody with authority pulled some strings for me or if I had bribed the officials. In Mizoram, it was all based on care and compassion.
Inside the hall, we too were assigned tokens.
We waited for our turn to be registered in the portal, and that took just a minute or two to complete.
After that they ushered us into the waiting area and finally a nurse came outside and led us into the vaccination room.
A doctor then made a small announcement, informing us that those who were pregnant or recently hospitalized weren't eligible to take the vaccine. After that she assured us that some of us could have fever or other mild illness after taking the vaccine and that was completely normal. And then the nurses came and jabbed us. Just like that, it was all over in 2 seconds. To be frank, it was quite an anti-climax, lolz, especially considering what we went through earlier to get that vaccine. :D
A nurse then led us all into the observation room, where they took down our names and we waited for 30 minutes.
And that was it. I was vaccinated. :)
I hope my experience was able to take you through the vaccination process in Mizoram. If you haven't taken your vaccine yet, please do so at the earliest.
I'll end this post by adding a few suggestions about the vaccination process, which you shouldn't take as a complaint or me being ungrateful. I am extremely grateful to the medical fraternity, Local Task Force groups, our MNF state government and our central Modi government for the free vaccine. Maybe consider my suggestions like a constructive criticism, if it will help improve the process in the future.
Suggestion 1. Why do we (18-34 group) need to book a slot via CoWIN? I personally saw how the 60+ group and 35-60 group vaccinations were conducted and everything went by so smoothly, why change the process? Like the famous phrase, "If it ain't broke, why fix it?", I am a bit perplexed as to why the 18-34 group suddenly need to follow this new process.
Also, making it mandatory to book a slot through CoWIN discriminates not just those who have slow internet connection but those who have NO internet access.
Suggestion 2. Can we announce the list of people who are not eligible to take a vaccine (pregnant, recently hospitalized etc) BEFORE the whole vaccination process begins instead of at the fag end of the process? I think that will save a lot of people so much time instead of going through the entire process only to be disqualified in the final step.
I know I may sound a bit unappreciative, considering how the only reason I managed to get a leftover vaccine was because of this same reason. :D But it is not something I would wish to happen upon anybody.
Suggestion 3. Since the government has made Tuikual a designated vaccination center, is it possible to do a little bit of traffic control during vaccination hours? It is extremely difficult for two vehicles to pass each other on that narrow stretch of road, maybe the traffic police or LLTF can make the road "one way" during vaccination, like people can enter only from Tennis court side if they are getting vaccinated and can exit only from Dinthar side once they are vaccinated, or some rule like that?
So I hope these suggestions of mine help a bit. Once again, I am truly grateful to all those who are responsible for delivering the vaccines, and hoping to see the end of this pandemic soon. Together we can battle this. God bless you all.
I came to the figure of 19.9% single dose and 3.9% double dose by taking the unofficial 2021 population of Mizoram, estimated to be around 13,31,921. However, if we take the official 2011 census report where the population of Mizoram is 10,97,206 then the percentage of people in Mizoram who got their first dose as of today is 24.1% and those who had completed two doses is 4.7%. Official government report can only use the census figure, and a new census report is supposed to come out this year but that hasn't been released yet because of the ongoing pandemic.
Also, in my comparative analysis between Mizoram data and India data, I have used a 3 days old data for India since I couldn't find the latest data online. But this will not affect the outcome variable much because the daily average vaccination rate in India is just around 0.12%.