Authorities at Jharkhand's largest prison, the Birsa Munda Central Jail in Ranchi, have completed vaccination of at least 900 of the 3,400-odd prisoners and almost all the staff members against Covid-19 in a bid to avert a second wave of the deadly viral infection in the jail.
“Around 900 prisoners above the age of 45 years have been vaccinated. We will start vaccination of prisoners in the age bracket of 18-44 years once we are able to register such jail inmates for the jabs,” said Jail Superintendent Hamid Akhter. “The second wave has not affected the jail as badly as the first wave did last year, and I think vaccination has played a huge role in it,” he added.
The first wave of the pandemic had wreaked havoc on the Ranchi jail with the mysterious virus infecting over 1000 prisoners and several hundred staff members last year. This year, however, timely vaccination and readiness have significantly reduced the impact of the second wave in the jail premises, authorities said on Saturday.
There were only four active cases of Covid-19 among prisoners on Saturday, and only one of them needed hospitalisation, Jail authorities said.
Even though fewer cases of Covid-19 were reported from the jail this year, the authorities were conducting regular RT PCR tests of the inmates to identify carriers who may spread the virus among other prisoners and staff members if not isolated on time. Jail authorities tested about 100 inmates this week and none of them tested positive.
On Saturday, at least 200 prisoners were administered the vaccine jabs, while about 700 jail inmates received the vaccine shots earlier, said Akhter.
While the vaccination campaign was running in full swing at the Ranchi jail, authorities were facing difficulty in vaccinating those inmates who do not have valid identity proofs, the jail superintendent said.
The Union Health Ministry recently issued an SOP for vaccination of such prisoners who do not have valid identity proof. As per the SOP, the documents of one point person in a particular group could be used for registration of group members who do not have valid identity documents.
“Some prisoners do not have Aadhar cards or other such identity proofs that can be used for registering them for the vaccination. We are contacting families of such prisoners, so someone could volunteer to provide their documents for registration of the prisoners,” said Akhter.