NEW DELHI: The Shopian administration in south Kashmir leveraged religious influencers and voter data with booth level officers (BLOs) for a headcount to achieve 100% vaccination of the 45-plus population present in the district with the first dose on Sunday, two days after Jammu became the first district to reach the goal.
The out-of-the-box thinking put Shopian ahead of other districts when the drive was launched in March. It maintained the lead till two days back when Jammu pipped it to the goal post, officials said. But still, it is no mean feat in a south Kashmir district which has emerged as the hub of new-age militancy and is surrounded by Pulwama, Kulgam and Anantnag.
“The administration threw its entire weight behind the health department. Auqaf committees (mosque administrators) were roped in to motivate people. BLOs and Anganwadi workers were deployed for a house-to-house survey to ascertain the number of 45-plus in each household and assist those who were yet to be vaccinated. SDMs and Tehsildars etc. were tasked with monitoring progress to the village level,” Zainpora SDM Mushtaq Ahmad Lone told TOI.
He said the vaccination could progress apace because there was no shortage of doses for the target group, “thanks to L-G (Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha).” “The DM was involved 24X7. If the vaccination rate dropped in a village, our entire focus would shift there the next day till all were vaccinated,” Lone said. District magistrate Sachin Kumar Vaishya did not respond to calls and text messages from TOI.
The health department set up over 70 vaccination centres, each with a capacity of vaccinating 100-150 persons. Shopian has a population of nearly three lakh. Officials said 78,769 have been vaccinated, all 45-plus.
Lone also gave credit to social influencers and police for the success. “The administration put its entire weight behind the health department. But it would not have been possible without support from society and its leaders. Police also played a very constructive role. They never denied us help,” Lone said.
Asked how felt about his role in the success of the drive, he said: “Naturally I feel happy. Ghar ka ladka ghar ke logon ke liye ek achche kaam mein kirdar nibha paya. (As a local, I am happy I could play a role in doing larger good for the people).
The officials explained that many from Shopian in the target age group resided elsewhere, such as Srinagar, Jammu or outside the union territory where they had houses. “Some may have registered here but taken the jab in, say, Srinagar. So Shopian may show empty slots because the jab has been registered in Srinagar’s quota. We went by a headcount of 45+ and have given each one the first dose,” a senior administration official said.