Covid vaccine jabs for people aged above 50 likely from mid-March
The Delhi government is likely to open the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination drive up for people aged over 50 and individuals with comorbidities in mid-March, pending the Centre’s approval, senior government officials said on Sunday.
People aged over 50 years and individuals with comorbidities irrespective of age have broadly been categorised as the third priority group for vaccination, after health care and front line workers, for whom the vaccination drive is currently open.
On Friday, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan in the Lok Sabha had announced that the third phase of the vaccination drive for people aged over 50 will begin after the second week of March.
“In the first phase, the target was to vaccinate around one million health care workers both in the public and private sector... In the second phase, an estimated two million frontline workers were to be vaccinated, and that also began at many places in the country on February 2. After completion of the first and second phase, the third phase will begin wherein everyone above 50 will be vaccinated. It may not be possible to provide an exact date, but it is likely that the process will begin anytime in the second, third or fourth week of March,” said Harsh Vardhan.
In Delhi, around 240,000 health workers and 450,000 front line workers have so far registered for the vaccination programme. Of these, 109,478 have so far received their first doses of the coronavirus vaccines, according to government records.
“The protocols and deadlines have seen several changes since the vaccination drive was launched on January 16. We are now capable of vaccinating multiple priority groups at the same time, as against the earlier plan in which specific windows were charted out for each group one after another. The provision to allow out-of-turn shots to registered beneficiaries is helping increasing turnout across the country,” said a senior government official who asked not to be named.
The official added, “Considering all these factors, at this stage, we expect to start with the vaccination of the third category by mid-March. The Centre’s approval will be required for this. The matter was taken up in few meetings over the last two weeks. Registrations for eligible beneficiaries in third category are likely to be open on the CoWin app from March 1.”
The government has so far estimated that 4.2 million in Delhi are aged over 50, a number arrived at largely through the use of electoral rolls. Government officials are still ascertaining the number of people with comorbidities through survey findings, departmental data and hospital records.
Dr Suneela Garg, director professor of community medicines department, Maulana Azad Medical College in Delhi and member of the Lancet Covid-19 commission and vaccination task force for India, said: “The more people across different categories get vaccinated in the early stages, the better it is. Covid management will become much easier for potential spikes in futures and mutant strains. Also, there will be less burden on the health care infrastructure system. At this stage, several states are preparing to start with vaccination of the elderly and those with comorbidities.”