Only 4% beneficiaries turn up for second vaccine shot: Centre
The roll-out of the second dose of vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) was off to a slow start on Saturday, with just 7,668 beneficiaries receiving the second jab, according to the provisional data released by the Union health ministry.
This accounted for just about 4% of the over 191,000 health care workers who received their first dose on January 16, the day the nationwide roll-out of the vaccination drive took place.
The government has set a deadline of March 1 to complete the vaccination of the frontline workers across the country, with a five-day period for “mop up” activity to vaccinate those who might have been missed out, said joint secretary of the Union health ministry, Mandeep Bhandari. For health care workers, the deadline is February 20.
The two vaccines that have been cleared for used in India – Covishield and Covaxin – require that two doses be given 28 days apart. However, as per the recommendation of the apex drug regulator, the doses can be taken within a window of four to six weeks.
“The second dose can be given any time between four and six weeks. That’s the window period that we have,” Dr VK Paul, member (health) of Niti Aayog previously told HT. He was one of those who received the vaccine on the day of the roll-out. He said he would take the second dose on Monday.
The weekend, half-day working at hospitals, could have been the reason for the low turnout. Dr NK Arora, National Task Force member on Covid-19 vaccines, said this was likely. “The numbers will probably pick up Monday onwards,” he said.
With 84,807 people receiving the shot on Saturday, as per provisional data, India crossed the 8 million mark of the number of people vaccinated.
The administration of the second dose of Covid-19 vaccines started on Saturday, 28 days after the first dose was given on January 16, in several states across India, even though the attendance of health care workers remained low, according to officials in multiple states.
Among the states that started the second dose of Covid-19 vaccination were Tamil Nadu, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand, an official said.
No second dose of the Covid-19 vaccines was given in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala. The process to give the second dose will begin in these states from Monday or early next week, another official said on condition of anonymity. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have not announced the days for the second dose of the vaccination.
Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Serum Institute of India’ Covishield vaccines require a two-dose schedule to be administered through the intramuscular route.
Tamil Nadu health secretary J Radhakrishnan, who inspected the administration of the second dose to health care workers at the Government Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, said the vaccination drive would soon be extended to the public.
Only 1,154 healthcare workers took the second dose in Tamil Nadu on Saturday, as opposed to the 3,027 beneficiaries for the first dose. “It isn’t compulsory to take the second dose exactly on the 28th day after the first dose. It can be taken soon after 28 days and also because it’s a weekend the numbers are low,” says Dr K Vinay, joint director, immunisation, directorate of public health and preventive medicine.
In Chandigarh, only 325 people were administered the second dose as compared to 5,907 on January 16 when the first dose was administered. State Immunization Officer, Dr Virendra Ahlawat said they will conduct more vaccination sessions Monday onwards and make up for the shortfall.
“One need not have any apprehensions over the vaccine being administered. We have given time till February 17 for the frontline workers to register. Soon, the vaccination drive will be extended to other sections of people,” Radhakrishnan said.
The Goa government, too, on Saturday started administering the second dose of Covid-19 vaccines to health care workers, said state immunisation officer Dr Rajendra Borkar. Ranganath Bhojje, a health care worker from the Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), was the first person to get the vaccine shot on January 16, when the nationwide vaccination programme had started. He was again the first person to get the second dose of the vaccine, the official said.
Those who received the second dose of the vaccine will develop immunity against the infection after 14 days, Borkar said. Out of the total number of 19,952 health care workers in the state, 10,341 have received their first dose so far, while the remaining will receive it by February 20, Dr Borkar said, adding that the state has covered 52% of the health care workers in the vaccination drive so far, Dr Borkar said.
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