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Vol. XXX No. 19, February 1-15, 2021
Vaccination in progress. Picture Courtesy: The Hindu.
With the receipt of its allotted consignment of covid vaccines earlier this month, CM Edappadi K. Palaniswami inaugurated the state’s vaccination drive in Madurai. Tamil Nadu has reportedly received 5.56 lakh doses of the covid vaccine, split as 5.36 lakh doses of the Covishield vaccine and 20,000 doses of the Covaxin vaccine. The vaccination drive will be rolled out in multiple stages. Healthcare workers such as doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and others will be vaccinated first, followed by frontline administrative workers such as the corporation staff and police officials. Next, the elderly above fifty years of age will be given priority for vaccination, followed by those below fifty years who have comorbidities. Finally, the vaccine will be rolled out to the general population. The state has already conducted dry runs of the planned vaccination drive, an effort that received appreciation from Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan.
During Bhogi, old and worn out things, ranging from torn clothes to termite-eaten furniture are discarded. But this year’s Bhogi saw something different. COVID-19 precautions were discarded in the cinema halls of Madras, to catch the ‘first-day-first-show’ (FDFS) of the film, Master on January 13, 2021. “People huddled together, foregoing social distancing. There was a huge crowd near the ticket counter. People were pushing each other in a frenzy, to get the ticket and catch the show on time,” said S. Mahizhan, 21 who watched Master on January 14, 2021 in a theatre in Porur. He saw many spectators without masks, shouting and whistling constantly in the cinema hall. They were dancing and jumping in hysteria on the entry of the hero in the film. It was utter pandemonium, with just 50 per cent occupancy allowed inside cinema screens.
At a time when vaccines are the topic of discussion and the debate rages on whether to be injected with them or not, it is time to remember a pioneering vaccinator of our city – W.S. Sawmy Naick. Born in the 1760s, Woodayagiri Singadivaukkum Sawmy Naick was employed as a native dresser in the Madras Army. In the early 1800s, he was appointed Native Superintendent of Vaccinations on a salary of 25 pagodas a month. He fulfilled this responsibility with dedication even though the locals viewed him with great suspicion. A group of Madras Armenians even waylaid and assaulted him but Sawmy Naick was undaunted. He retired as Chief Medical Practitioner of the Vaccine Department in 1829.
It was on 4th June 2012 that we got the shocking news – my wife was suffering from cancer and subsequent tests proved that it was cancer of the colon which had already metastasized to the liver and lungs.
It was an inoperable case. Unfortunately we discovered the disease very late – all the doctors who saw the test reports opined that cure was not possible. But still we had to give her some treatment to see if we could contain the disease so that she could live longer than what was predicted.
The choice for treatment was between a top five-star speciality hospital and the Cancer Institute.
Edinburgh House, Egmore, where the Ungers lived.