The Tripura High Court sought clarification from the state government for disseminating inaccurate information on vaccination of more than 80 per cent of eligible persons and 98 per cent of people above 45 years receiving the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice AA Kureshi and Justice Subhasish Talapatra heard a suo-moto case after the state government filed a detailed affidavit before the court.
The Court observed that two local newspapers on June 25 quoted National Health Mission, Tripura mission director Siddharth Shiv Jaiswal as saying that around 80 per cent population of all eligible age groups and 98 per cent people above 45 years have received the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
However, the division bench said that neither of these two claims was accurate.
“As per the government affidavit, the entire eligible population of over 18 years in the state is close to 26.86 lakhs. There are approximately 12.36 lakhs people over 45 years,” the court observed.
“On the day when the NHM mission director made these claims, 24,26,803 vaccines were administered, of which 5,66,458 comprised the second dose. Total number of people vaccinated was thus 18,60,345,” the court said.
The division bench further said that the total doses of vaccines administered to achieve 80 per cent coverage also included the same persons receiving two doses.
Total vaccine doses administered to people over 45 years till June 25 was 14,36,595. Second dose was given to 5,66,458 people, majority of who were from this age group since vaccination for people below 45 years started only recently.
Thus, around 9 lakh out of 12.36 lakh people over 45 years were given the vaccine. This certainly does not come to 98 per cent of the population in that age group.
The Chief Justice said that it is only when there is total transparency and accuracy in data provided by the state machinery that the people will understand the correct picture and have faith in the data distribution system.
“When an officer as responsible as the mission director of NHM, Tripura, is quoted to have provided information which was inaccurate, we expected him to issue a statement furnishing the correct data to the press,” the division bench observed.
However, the court expressed concern about the depleting stock of vaccines in the state and resultant drop in daily vaccinations.
“In our state, surely a large number of people have received the first dose, but not the second dose. The state administration must arrange sufficient stocks of vaccine doses to cover this population within the recommended period,” the court said.
Further Kureshi said, “The distribution of the vaccines across the country is being done by a specially constituted committee, which takes into account various factors while deciding their proportionate distribution to different states.”
“If need be, the state government may take up this issue with the committee for allocation of sufficient vaccines to the state in view of its committed requirement,” he said.