Only half of Mumbai’s teens vaccinated for first dose

Published on Feb 18, 2022 12:17 AM IST
The nationwide vaccination drive for youngsters in the age group of 15 to 18 years began on January 3
Mumbai’s target population in the 15 to 18 age group is 612,000 (Praful Gangurde / HT Photo))
Mumbai’s target population in the 15 to 18 age group is 612,000 (Praful Gangurde / HT Photo))

MUMBAIThe city has achieved only 49.9% first-dose coverage of Covid-19 vaccination in the 15 to 18 age group, while the city’s full vaccination coverage in this age group is 24.2%. Not only is the city’s average much below Maharashtra’s average – 57% for the first dose and 27% for the second – Mumbai is also among the bottom districts in this age category.

Compared to this, Mumbai has achieved 111% first-dose vaccination for the 18-plus age category and 95.93% for the second dose.

Mumbai’s target population in the 15 to 18 age group is 612,000. The nationwide vaccination drive for youngsters in the age group of 15 to 18 years began on January 3. Until 6pm on February 17, the city had administered 396,972 doses (both doses combined) in this category, according to the Cowin dashboard. Among the 36 districts in the state, Mumbai stood at 7th from the bottom in the first dose coverage and 19th from the bottom in the second dose coverage of the below 18 population.

The top-performing districts for first dose coverage include Bhandara (79%), Sangli (73%), Kolhapur (72%), Ahmednagar (70%), Satara (69%) and Palghar (69%). In all, 15 districts are below the state’s average in the first dose coverage. In the second dose coverage, the top districts include Sangli (68%), Raigad (43%), Bhandara (40%), Beed (40%) and Nagpur (37%).

“Multiple factors have come into play for the low vaccine coverage in the minor population in Mumbai,” said Dr Mangala Gomare, Mumbai’s executive health officer. “We faced a shortage of the vaccine for a few days. The low number of Covid cases in Mumbai has also impacted vaccination turnout,” she said.

At present, the Centre has approved only Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin for the 15 to 18 demographic. According to Gomare, since the city has many vaccinations centres, any kind of shortage seems severe as the vaccines get distributed to multiple locations. “We received 23,000 doses on Tuesday and more doses are expected. But we always need extra stock so that vaccines remain available in all centres,” said Gomare.

State immunisation officer Dr Sachin Desai said the vaccine shortage has hit the overall intake. “For districts such as Mumbai, 20,000 odd doses last for barely two days,” said Desai, adding that the state currently has anywhere between 700,000 and 800,000 Covaxin doses, which should suffice for this week.

According to Desai, Mumbai’s low coverage in the 15 to 18 age group is also due to schools and colleges being shut. “Schools and colleges remained open in many districts post Diwali. This helped districts in conducting vaccination drives, whereas Mumbai stumbled upon a roadblock as they could not actively mobilise this population. The coverage will go up as vaccination is required for attending offline classes,” he said.

The civic body in Mumbai has sent out a fresh appeal to schools and colleges this week urging students to get vaccinated. It had also sought lists from educational institutions of those yet to get vaccinated so that their field officers can reach out to them. “We have now moved the vaccination to the ‘camp mode’, meaning taking the vaccine close to the population instead of waiting for the beneficiaries to turn up to the centre,” said additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani. “We may shut down a few centres in order to divert the manpower for the camps,” he said.

Vaccination expert Dr Naveen Thacker said there is also some reluctance among parents to get their children vaccinated. “In addition, there is a constant message that Covid-19 is mild among children, which is doing more harm. What parents don’t understand is that the infection may not be necessarily mild for their child and thus vaccination is the best protection,” said Thacker, adding that the civic body and the government should invest in targeted, tailormade communication campaigns to send out the right kind of messages.

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