Health workers’ vaccination wraps up in Chandigarh with 43% coverage
The 41-day exercise to inoculate healthcare workers on priority ended on Thursday, with Chandigarh performing poorly on the coverage ratio amid reluctance towards the Covid-19 vaccine.
The city falls among the league of four states and UTs with coverage for first dose less than 50%. Placed third among them, Chandigarh has achieved vaccination coverage of 43%, followed by Puducherry at 33.7%.
Now, the second phase of the vaccination drive for people aged over 60 and those above 45 with comorbidities will begin on March 1. A meeting between the Centre and states on operational details of the next phase and covering the remaining health workers is scheduled on Friday.
A few healthcare staffers will be immunised on Friday as their entries were recorded in the online registration platform on Thursday evening. Drive to provide the second dose will continue as per the schedule of the first jab.
Meanwhile, frontline workers will continue to receive the vaccine till March 6. Comprising staff from the police and municipal corporation, the drive for frontline categories began on February 3 and has so far covered 35.6% of the targeted beneficiaries.
“The fact remains that the exercise is totally voluntary. We cannot force the beneficiaries to get the vaccine. A decision on whether there should be an incentive for those who got the shot will be taken during the war room meeting after consultation with the respective department heads,” said UT adviser Manoj Parida.
Lukewarm response worrisome
The low turnout among the priority groups can also cast its shadow on the upcoming phases, particularly when the city is seeing a resurge in the daily infections and new strains of the virus are surfacing.
The number of daily cases has almost doubled in less than a week. On Thursday, 49 people tested positive against the 28 on February 21.
“The steady upward trend, coupled with low vaccination coverage, is a matter of concern. The health workers have been hesitant as evident from the statistics. The numbers are increasing to some extent now, but are still far from encouraging,” said Dr Jagat Ram, director, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research.
In a press statement on Thursday, the institute said with mask use down and mobility up, Covid-19 cases had accelerated and in one week, there had been a 100% increase in bed occupancy.
Dr GD Puri, chairman of the Covid-19 management committee at PGIMER, said, “For a few months, the numbers had been decreasing consistently and had been stable over the recent weeks. However, the trend has reversed, with the cases again rising on a daily basis. There has been a surge in admitted patients at PGIMER, from 30 to 57 in a week, a 100% rise in positive cases at PGIMER.”
He said frontline warriors should be the role models for society instead of falling prey to misconceptions and rumours regarding the efficacy, safety and side effects of the vaccine. “In fact, who knows more than the healthcare workers about how deadly Covid-19 is?” he added in the PGIMER statement.
In an order on February 22, UT senior superintendent of police (SSP) Kuldeep Singh Chahal had warned of disciplinary action against any police personnel not turning up for vaccination as per the list. He had tasked the unit in-charges with ensuring compliance. However, he did not elaborate on what the disciplinary action will entail.