COVID-19: Bihar denies unvaccinated lawmakers entry to state assembly

Bihar vaccine India covid
A medic gives the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to to a woman at a government dispensary in Patna on Monday, April 19, 2021. Image Credit: ANI

Patna: Amid growing concerns following a rise in cases of Delta Plus variant of COVID-19, the Bihar state administration has said it will ban the entry of unvaccinated lawmakers into the state assembly during the upcoming monsoon session. The monsoon session of the assembly is to start soon although the date has not been announced.

The announcement has come from Bihar assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha. “Only lawmakers who have taken the vaccines will be allowed to enter the state Assembly. So, all are requested to take vaccines soon along with their family members,” Bihar assembly Speaker told the media on Thursday.

Sinha said lawmakers are the “watchdogs” of society. “If they get the vaccines, then the fear among people about vaccination will end. This will encourage the general masses to come forward for vaccination which will check the spread of the deadly coronavirus,” Sinha explained. Besides, there is a possibility of a third wave of COVID-19 and hence everyone needs to be cautious and careful, he added.

According to Sinha, around 80 per cent of lawmakers have been inoculated, and the others need to get vaccinated as soon as possible. He blamed reluctant lawmakers for creating confusion in society by staying away from the vaccination drive. Bihar has 318 lawmakers, 243 in the State Assembly who are directly elected by the voters, and 75 in the State Council.

Lawmakers who have not taken the vaccine so far include Bihar Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav and his lawmaker brother Tej Pratap Yadav, both sons of Indian politician Lalu Prasad who is the national president of main opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). Tejashwi has announced that he will be the last person to take the vaccine as he wants the people to be vaccinated first.

The vaccination drive which started in mid-January is yet to pick up momentum due to inadequate supply of vaccines and various rumours and misconceptions doing the rounds in the villages. One of the rumours is that the vaccine causes infertility. However, the federal health ministry has denied such rumours saying no evidence has been found linking COVID-19 vaccination with infertility in men and women.

In Bihar, more than 15 per cent of the population has been vaccinated.