On Thursday, the Centre asked poll-bound states and Union Territories (UTs) to step up vaccination efforts amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, courtesy of the omicron variant. Poll-bound states have been asked to ramp up vaccination efforts particularly in districts that have received poor coverage, ahead of the elections in 2022.

Several states and UTs, namely, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Goa, and Punjab, have Legislative Assembly elections scheduled for early 2022, and the Centre’s latest advisory comes at a time when political parties are ramping up their campaigning efforts in the aforementioned areas.

Regarding the details of the Centre’s advisory, ANI has reported that poll-bound states have been asked to ensure 100 percent coverage of those who have not received their first jab yet, in a bid to increase the pool of beneficiaries eligible for the second dose.

Further, the Centre has also urged “door-to-door” vaccination campaigns in states and UTs where vaccination rates are below the national average. Meanwhile, states and UTs have also been urged to consider restrictions ahead of the upcoming festive week. Possible restrictions could include the imposition of night-time curfews, the regulation and prevention of large gatherings, and the creation of containment zones and buffer zones.

Also read | Omicron fears: State-wise restrictions ahead of year-end festivities

According to Statista, as of December 13, the populous state of Uttar Pradesh had the highest cumulative number of vaccinations in the country, with over 176 million first and second doses administered, while poll-bound Manipur, Goa, Uttarakhand, and Punjab lagged far behind. It is understood that the lagging states will have to step up their efforts to inoculate people and ensure that the elections do not lead to a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases.

The advisory was issued by the Centre after it held a review meeting of the COVID-19 situation, and it has been reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to chair a meeting on the situation later on Thursday.