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Sharmili Mallick

The drive to administer precautionary or booster doses to the servitors of Lord Jagannath Temple, who are above the age of 60 years, began in Puri on Friday.

A Covid care centre has been set up at Neelachal Bhakta Niwas in the pilgrim town where the eligible servitors can get the booster dose. 

The centre will remain open for six hours every day from 9 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 5 pm. A special medical team, compromising two doctors and two nurses, has been pressed into the service to carry out the vaccination at the centre.

Meanwhile, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has demanded ease in the eligibility to get the booster shots.

Temple administrator (development) Ajay Kumar Jena stated that as the servitors are engaged in the daily rituals of the deities, the SJTA will write a letter to the State government urging precautionary dose for all the sevayats engaged in the shrine.

“Since a gap of nine months from the date of the second dose is mandatory for 60 plus beneficiaries to receive the precautionary dose, the number of eligible servitors is considerably less,” informed Jena.

Puri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee member and senior servitor Madhaba Chandra Mohapatra said, “In order to make the servitors aware of the decision, the notification was also shared on our social media accounts. The 9-month criteria to receive the third dose exclude many. We have decided to launch door-to-door campaigning to spread the message.”

Udaya Shankar Pratihari, a sevayat said, “There is confusion among the sevayats regarding the criteria to get the booster dose. However, the temple administration and sevayat nijog should spread awareness about the vaccination drive.”

Meanwhile, the doors of Srimandir have remained closed for the public since January 10. The shrine will remain shut till January 31 in view of the rising cases of Coronavirus in the State and also the detection of some cases in the shrine.

However, daily rituals of the deities are being carried out as per schedule by the servitors.

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