No universal vaccination: Only priority groups to get vaccine in Bengal
The West Bengal government will not launch the universal vaccination programme (providing free vaccines to all in the age bracket 18-45 years) and will instead continue to vaccinate priority groups, due to a shortage of vaccines, senior health officials said.
The Centre launched the universal vaccination programme against Covid-19 from Monday to provide states with free vaccines for the 18-45 category, a move that is expected to help scale up daily vaccination numbers.
“There will be no change in the policy. We will continue to vaccinate priority groups. We don’t have enough vaccines. If we start universal vaccination, there will be a mismatch and the priority groups won’t get the vaccines. Until we complete vaccinating the target groups we won’t be able to vaccinate others,” said Ajoy Chakraborty, director of health services.
The state had identified a few priority groups, including sex workers, jail inmates, hawkers and transport workers, who could be Covid-19 super-spreaders.
The groups include Covid-19 volunteers, jail inmates, retail sellers in markets, hawkers, sex workers and transgenders, lawyers and court staff, journalists, transport workers, dealers of essential goods, and government employees, including teacher, who were not vaccinated during the assembly elections.
“On an average, we were getting around 200,000 vaccines per day. The flow will be a little healthier now and we may get around 300,000 doses per day. We have the capacity to scale it up to 500,000 per day. We have vaccinated 475,000 persons in one day, which has been the highest till date,” said a senior health official.
Till date, the state has vaccinated 19,010,700 persons, of which 2,142,859 vaccines were given to people in the 18-45 age group.
The Union government will procure 75% of the total overall Covid-19 vaccine supplies, and distribute it among states for free to vaccinate all adults.
According to senior officials of the Union health ministry, more vaccine supplies are in the pipeline than before and the companies are also ramping up production; therefore, there should be no problem covering the target population.
“We will increase the vaccination as per the quantity we receive. It will take some time for us to start universal vaccination. We will first complete the priority groups, which include super-spreaders, persons forcibly exposed to public mingling, and those facing public,” said the official.