Pradeep Pattanayak

With a view to protecting the senior servitors at Puri Sri Jagannath Temple from Covid-19 and its new variant Omicron, the drive to administer booster dose to those above 60 years kick started on Thursday. 

Keeping the prospects of servitors being infected and the resultant adverse impact on the rituals in view, the Sri Jagannath Temple has been closed since January 9 and it will remain out of bounds for the devotees till January 31. 

Meanwhile, as per the decision taken at Wednesday’s Chhatisa Nijog meeting, a Covid Care Centre has been set up at the Neelachal Bhakta Niwas where administration of precautionary doses to the servitors aged above 60 years started on Thursday. They are being inoculated with Covishield vaccines. The vaccination center is open for six hours every day-from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm.  

At the same time, the vaccination of beneficiaries under 15-18 age group is also underway. 

Temple administrator (development) Ajay Kumar Jena told OTV that a special team is pressed into the service to carry out the vaccinations. Since a gap of nine months from the date of the second dose is mandatory for 60 plus beneficiaries to receive the precautionary dose, only the eligible servitors are visiting the center to take jabs. “At the same time, beneficiaries in the 15-18 age group are also being inoculated. Till Wednesday, as many as 144 beneficiaries of this age group were vaccinated,” he added.

Puri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee member and senior servitor Madhaba Chandra Mohapatra said the decision to administer precautionary doses to senior servitors was taken at the Chhatisha Nijog meeting yesterday and accordingly a notification was released. 

“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,” Mohapatra added.