4k health workers in line to get second Covid-19 vaccine shot today
As part of the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination drive, officials on Friday reached out to 4,319 people scheduled to get their second vaccine dose on Saturday in Delhi.
The beneficiaries include healthcare workers who received their first dose on January 16, when the vaccination drive began across the country. Delhi deployed Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccines.
“After the first shot, the beneficiaries were given a card with details of their next dose. The Co-WIN portal also sends out an automatic message on their phones. However, we are not taking any chances. We asked all 81 vaccination centres (involved on the first vaccination day) to call the beneficiaries and inform them that they are due for the next dose,” said a senior official from Northeast Delhi district. The district consistently reported 100% coverage and its officials attributed it to this rigorous mechanism they followed.
HT found a similar mechanism in place at other districts too. Co-WIN is a central government portal developed to track vaccination drive and their beneficiaries.
Beneficiaries are slated to receive the second dose at the same centres where they received the first.
“For now, there is no option for people to change their centre or the date. However, if people do miss their vaccination, they may be given another chance in another four to six weeks,” said the above-mentioned district official.
But the protocol for the second attempt at a shot is yet to be finalised.
“So far, we have not received any protocol for what to do if people miss their second vaccine dose. This will be decided after tomorrow (Saturday), but these beneficiaries need to get the vaccine within a certain period, as per the vaccination protocol,” said another official.
The government plans to increase the number of vaccination centres. According to government data, the city has been vaccinating over 12,000 people each day for the last four days, up from the 4,000 on the first day. On Thursday, the government had increased centres from 183 to 265.
Currently, all the vaccination sites are at hospitals – both government and private – where any adverse reactions can be handled. The new centres are expected to be at government dispensaries.
Experts call for uniform messaging
Both vaccines deployed in India are two-dose vaccine with each dose spaced 28 days apart. But some data suggest that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine AZD1222 (the Indian variant is Covishield) gave better protection at 12 weeks apart. This, experts said, could lead to people giving the second dose a miss.
“There is a lot of confusion among doctors and other healthcare workers on this. Some may miss their second dose and trying to delay it for as long as possible (believing it would be better to get it at 12 weeks). However, with just one dose, the seroconversion (production of antibodies) will not be proper and they will not be protected against the disease,” said Dr Suneela Garg, professor of community medicine at Maulana Azad Medical College.
Dr Shobha Broor, former head of the department of microbiology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) said, “There is a lot of confusion with the data currently available. However, what we know for sure is that one dose will not protect you against the disease. But whether the second dose should be given 28 days apart or 12 weeks is not clear. In general, for other vaccines, once the T cell (part of the immune system) response is primed they need to be boosted quickly for better response.”
Both experts encouraged people not to miss the second dose even for minor adverse reactions. “Except those who suffered anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction), the others should get the vaccine and be prepared for minor side effects like fever, giddiness etc,” said Dr Broor.