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Punjab focuses on first vaccine dose despite Centre’s directive to prioritise the second

Of the fresh 2.5 lakh vaccine shots the state received following the central communique, more than half used for first dose
By Ravinder Vasudeva, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON JUL 30, 2021 01:43 AM IST
A health worker inoculating a woman in Punjab.

Punjab continues to focus on administering the first Covid-19 vaccine dose even as the Union government has asked the state to inoculate people with second jab on a priority basis.

Of the fresh 2.5 lakh vaccine shots the state received following the Centre’s directive, more than half were used as the first dose. On Wednesday, 46,435 jabs were given for the first dose and 44,755 as second. Of a total of 1,02,291 doses given on Thursday, 54,913 were first doses, the health department’s media bulletin revealed.

This despite the fact that the state health department had directed the officials concerned to administer 80% of the total jabs for second dose following the Centre’s instructions. Citing a communiqué from the Union health secretary, the Punjab health director had written to all civil surgeons to shift the focus to the second dose.

The Union health secretary had expressed concern that the state was going “very slow” on the administering the second dose.

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“The CoWIN data as on July 17 shows that 9,36, 758 beneficiaries are due for second dose of Covishield and 78,062 beneficiaries are due for second dose of Cavaxin,” the letter read.

Punjab Covid-19 nodal officer Dr Rajesh Bhaskar said, “The district heath authorities were asked to keep the second and first dose in the 80:20 ratio. But the figures from the last two days suggest that the ratio is nearly 50:50. A fresh advisory is being issued to them.”

A senior health department official said of a total of nearly 97 lakh doses administered so far in the state, 35 lakh should have been given as second dose. “But the number is mere 19 lakh,” he said.

Some experts have even suggested to the officials to stop giving the first jab to those aged below 45 for a few days and focus on the second dose only.

Vikas Gupta, a 32-year-old employee with a Mohali-based private firm said,

“I got the second dose on Wednesday after trying for 10 days. One can well imagine the plight of those who are not educated or cannot spare enough time.”

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