‘At saturation point’: Weekly shots in 15-18 bracket down in Delhi
Weekly vaccinations among those aged between 15 and 18 in Delhi dropped to their lowest ever between February 26 and March, showed data from the Co-Win dashboard, a dip that officials attributed to a saturation point in this bracket, apart from the ongoing pre-board examinations.
Over the past seven days, Delhi administered only 65,847 doses (including the first and second) to children in the 15-18 age group, the fewest in a week since jabs for this cohort began on January 3 this year.
Before this, weekly jabs dipped to a low of 67,662 between January 22 and 28.
This number peaked at 302,553 doses between January 8 and January 14.
When the government began the vaccination drive for this age group, they estimated around 1.01 million children to be eligible for doses. However, since the government is expanding its net to reach out to homeless and street children (who are not part of the official census), they are now aiming at vaccinating nearly 1.4 million children in the Capital.
Of these, 921,773 children have received at least the first dose of Covaxin (the jab being administered to teens across the country). Over 624,000 children have received both shots of the jab, 28 days apart, and completed their inoculation regimen, showed the data.
Senior Delhi government officials said that the number of teenagers turning up for jabs started declining after the first two weeks of the drive, likely due to the Omicron wave of the pandemic, which peaked around mid-January.
Data from the dashboard showed that 219,660 vaccines were administered between January 15 and January 21, a number that dropped more than two-thirds in the next week.
Officials said vaccinations slow down after a point, because most of the registered and willing people have already received their doses. “The last leg requires the government to encourage those who are eligible but have not taken their doses for various reasons. This might also just be a temporary slowdown in the drive as many children in this cohort are busy with their pre-board exams and their preparations,” said a senior Delhi health department official.
“During the peak of the Omicron wave, it was not just the teenagers, but vaccinations for every category were low. People were hesitant to travel to vaccination centres to get the jabs and we were not forcing anyone to come to centres because of a higher chance of contracting the infection. The numbers, however, did start picking up in the first week of February, when infections started falling,” said the official.
While there was an uptick in the vaccinations among children from January 29, district-level health officials said that this was not solely because of an increase in vaccine takers but because the first batch of teenagers was now eligible for their second doses.
“It is extremely important that maximum teenagers in this category are vaccinated because they have to start taking their examinations—pre-boards and boards—and the schools will also start opening in a few weeks. Before they start moving out on a routine basis, we must protect our children. The government needs to concentrate their efforts in getting as many children vaccinated and also make efforts to bring the unregistered children, the children that are not in the system such as homeless, beggars, street vendors etc, in the ambit of the vaccination drive,” said Dr PK Sharma, epidemiologist and advisor (public health) with the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC).
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