Karnataka tops in vaccination drive on PM’s birthday
Karnataka topped the Covid vaccination drive in the country on Friday by administering 2.69 million doses till 9 pm, minister for health & family welfare and medical education K Sudhakar said.
The state stood first in the country ahead of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, which achieved over 2.66 million and 2.48 million doses, his office said in a release.
“It is really apt that this effort coincides with the birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has led the war on Covid from the front,” Sudhakar said.
According to data released by the state health department at 8:30 pm, Karnataka had achieved 85% coverage by administering 2,692,955 doses against the target of 3,175,000.
“I would like to thank all the health workers and other staff who have been involved in this historic vaccination drive,” Sudhakar said.
It is a phenomenal effort by Karnataka to administer more doses than Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which have several times more population, he said.
Meanwhile, the state on Friday also crossed the “milestone” of administering over 50 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine till date.
Data from Cowin shows the Karnataka government appears to have continued its practice to hoard Covid-19 vaccines so as to show a higher number of inoculations on Friday. The state government denied hoarding of vaccines.
The state government had set a target to administer 3 million doses on Friday to celebrate the birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Data from Cowin shows that Karnataka has held back vaccinations to a minimum to administer jabs on a specific day to show higher numbers and demonstrate its prowess in the fight against Covid-19.
The state government has shown high numbers on days it observes mass vaccination drives across Karnataka and seeing sharp downward fluctuations on other days.
Denying hoarding of vaccines, Dr KV Trilok Chandra, commissioner for health and family welfare, said, “Compared to other states we have been consistently administering an average of 3-4 lakh doses every day irrespective of any mela.” He said the average per day vaccination was higher than most other states.
Chandra said the two days in September where inoculations were lower than 100,000 was due to the festivals.
The emphasis on optics in the fight against Covid-19 comes at a time when the threat of a third wave of infections looms over the state, which has so far lost at least 37,573 lives due to the virus and millions more impacted due to it.
Until Friday, the state had administered a high of 1.25 million doses in a single day on September 1, the day it launched the “lasika utsav”, and every Wednesday since. Though the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government has assured to adminsiter 500,000 vaccinations per day, data shows that it has breached that number just on four occasions in September.
Most BJP-ruled states held vaccination drives to observe the birthday of the Prime Minister.
The developments come even as people are sent back home without their shots, especially in rural areas where distance and transport have added to existing problems like growing hesitancy in districts, such Yadgir, Raichur and Chamarajanagar, among other.
To overcome hesitancy, the district administration of Chamarajanagar had also tried to implement a ‘no-vaccine, no-pension/ration’ order that came under heavy criticism and eventually pulled back.
The state health department said that as of Friday, the state had 3.5 million doses of vaccines with the state and the supply was also at a healthy rate.
According to the government release on Friday, the districts that topped in Karnataka during the drive are Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike- BBMP area (398,000 doses), Belagavi (239,000 doses), Dakshina Kannada (133,000 doses), Ballari (133,000 doses), Tumkuru (124.000 doses) and Mandya (115,000 lakh doses).
Bengaluru Urban, Shivamogga, Dharwad, Ramanagara, Hassana, Davanagere, Chikamagaluru and Haveri districts achieved more than 100 per cent of the day’s target.
The vaccination drive, also called “Mega Vaccination Mela” was conducted in over 12,000 Covid vaccination centres across the state.
Karnataka administered a total of 50.12 million doses till 9 PM on September 17.
“We are very confident of crossing the target of 1.5 crore (15 million) that we have set ourselves for September,” the minister said, also expressing confidence about vaccinating the entire adult population in the State by the end of November.
India on Friday administered a 20.25 million doses till 9 pm. The total doses administered in India till September 17 has crossed 790 million.