PM Modi unveils door-to-door drive to cover those yet to get the jab
Prime minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched the month-long Har Ghar Dastak (knock on every door) campaign aimed to conduct a special house-to-house Covid-19 vaccination drive, with special focus on those whose second dose is overdue, to accelerate complete vaccination.
Modi launched the drive during a review of 45 districts, across 11 states and a union territory that have low coverage of the first dose. The chief ministers of these states and the district administrators were present during the review.
The special vaccination drive will be held between November 3 and 30.
“So far you have had been making efforts to safely administer Covid vaccine doses at vaccination centres. Now the time has come to focus your efforts on house-visits to ensure you cover those who have not been vaccinated as yet,” Modi said.
The 11 states whose chief ministers attended the meeting are: Arunchal Pradesh (6 districts with low coverage of first shots), Assam (1), Chhattisgarh (1), Haryana (1), Jharkhand (8), Maharashtra (5), Manipur (8), Meghalaya (4), Mizoram (1), Nagaland (8), Tamil Nadu (1) and Delhi (1).
Till 7 PM on Wednesday night, India had administered 1,076.3 million doses of the vaccine. Of the eligible (18 years and above) population of 940 million, 337.27 million had received both doses and 739.04 million, one dose, translating into a 78.6% coverage in terms of those who have received at least one dose of the vaccine
According to the Co-WIN dashboard, the coverage of first doses across Indian states ranges from 61% to over 100% (on the basis of population projections made by the National Commission on Population).
The top five states and UTs are: Himachal Pradesh (103.6% coverage), Jammu and Kashmir (101.2%), Kerala (94.9%), Uttarakhand (92.9%), and Gujarat (91.7. And the bottom five are Jharkhand (60.8%), North-eastern states excluding Assam (66.7%), Uttar Pradesh (67.1%), Bihar (68.3%), and Punjab (70.3%).
By districts, the bottom five districts (in terms of first dose coverage) as of November 2 are: Senapati in Manipur (25.1%), Kiphire in Nagaland (25.6%), Ukhrul in Manipur (27.8%), Kurung Kume in Arunachal Pradesh (28.9%), and Narayanpur in Chhattisgarh (30.5%).
Since there are no official population projections at the district-level, these coverage figures use the number of electors in the district (2011 census districts taken here) before the 2019 Lok Sabha election as a proxy for adult population.
Experts say while vaccination pace has picked up, going door-to-door will be idea to take care of last mile coverage. “Those who had to come to get vaccinated on their own have largely come, and now for the ones left governments will have to make an effort to reach out to them. Even though there is no data to support how much is good enough, I would say covering as high as possible will be good,” said Dr Giridhara Babu, head, epidemiology, Indian Institute of Public Health.
“During this house-to-house campaign, along with those who are yet to receive their first dose, you all must also focus on administering the second dose. When disease transmission comes down, the feeling of urgency also tends to come down. People start thinking what is the hurry; we will get jabbed later,” the PM added.
According to the government data, as on October 27, at least 103.4 million second doses were overdue, a cause for concern because only both doses provide adequate protection against symptomatic infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19, hospitalisation, even death. .
HT first reported this on October 23, when India administered its billionth vaccine. At that time, around 90 million second shots were overdue.
Modi said there should be no laxity in the pace of Covid vaccination even though we have administered one billion doses, and asked the officials to ensure that the country must widen its vaccination coverage by the end of the year and enter the new year with renewed self-belief and confidence.
During his meeting with PM Modi on Wednesday, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray apprised him about Mission Kavach Kundal, a drive undertaken to step up rate of vaccination in the state. “Vaccination tends to prevent infection and also blunts the effects of the virus. Citizens should take both doses,” said Thackeray.
Chhahttisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel in his letter to PM Modi on Wednesday said, “During the conference it was pointed out that 38,82,646 second doses are due in Chhattisgarh against which we only have 31,93,735 doses for the second round. While we have no vaccines for the first dose.In addition to this we are also facing syringe shortage. As against the 31,93,735 doses of vaccines we have only 19,76, 722 syringes which is hampering the vaccination drive in the state.”
The PM also told the states that the pandemic resulted in people finding innovative solutions to problems, and similarly there was a need to find innovative solutions to complete remaining vaccinations in the remotest regions. The interventions suggested by the PM to encourage people to take the vaccine include: taking the support of religious leaders; jingles in local languages; posters and pamphlets etc.
The Prime minister discussed the issue of vaccine hesitancy and the local factors behind it in detail.
“Develop micro strategies, keeping in mind the experience so far to go for saturation of vaccination by addressing the gaps at local level… You will have to do your best to take your districts nearer the national average…,” he told the administrators.
“Last mile is always the most challenging and it has been seen that the states are capable of vaccinating in large numbers, and supplies are also not an issue anymore. What is now required is micro planning as even during the Universal Immunisation programme governments held social mobilization and outreach camps at areas where coverage seems low,” added Babu.
Modi also suggested creating teams of 20-25 people depending on the region, and have healthy competition between them in terms of number of vaccinations.
“We have granular data available with us till the district level through CoWIN platform; our district officials can do line-listing which means cross check names with numbers and also get addresses of target beneficiaries. Health care workers on ground such as ASHA workers can be made use of for conducting door-to-door visits,” said a senior health ministry official aware of the matter, on condition of anonymity.
The districts that have covered less than 50% of the adult population with at least one shot of the vaccine, and those districts that have low coverage of the second dose were part of the review.
The Prime Minister emphasised that under the free vaccine-for-all campaign, India created a record of administering about 25 million vaccine doses in a day, a feat that bears testimony to India’s capabilities.On September 17, to commemorate Modi’s birthday, states across India administered 26.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines. In October, an average of 5.58 million vaccine doses were administered every day.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, there are currently 45 districts in India that are still seeing a heavy lag in vaccination coverage as they are yet to administer even a single shot to more than half their adult population at a time when the national average for such coverage is at least 78%.While 38% of the population is fully vaccinated, there are still at least 103 million beneficiaries whose second dose is overdue.