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Hesitancy, infra issues plague vaccination drive

T V Jayan New Delhi | Updated on March 27, 2021

Against ideal of 5-7m, averaging 2 m daily

Seventy days into the Covid vaccination programme, some States are still battling infrastructural issues and hesitancy.

A member of the National Task Force on Covid-19 told BusinessLine that the ideal number of daily vaccinations for a country like India would be 5- 7 million. But currently the daily average is around 2 million, hitting 3 million on a couple of days. So far, States and Union Territories have administered a total of 5.69 crore jabs since the campaign commenced on January 16.

A factor that hinders the ramping up of the vaccination numbers, however, could also be vaccine availability. Participating in a webinar early this week, NITI Aayog Member (Health) Vinod Paul said the monthly vaccine production capacity of the two vaccine firms in the country is around 70 million doses — Serum Institute of India 60 million and Bharat Biotech 10 million — at present. With global commitments under Covax, the number of vaccine doses available for India’s vaccination programme is further limited.

Going by the vaccination numbers available on the Co-WIN dashboard, Punjab, Telangana and Haryana are struggling to get enough beneficiaries vaccinated. Punjab, for instance, has been able to administer only around 7.42 lakh vaccine doses, at roughly 10,000 doses a day. According to a top State Health Department official, both glitches in the Co-WIN App and hesitancy marred the efforts to get enough numbers on board initially. But the situation has improved of late with more government and private centres offering vaccination. The problem, however, still remains in the border districts, which have poor health infrastructure.

 

Vaccine hesitancy in TN

Tamil Nadu also remains troubled by hesitancy. “We have made all arrangements and created over 5,000 vaccine centres across Tamil Nadu. We have also created a lot of awareness on the need to take the vaccine. But people are not coming forward... what can the government do,” asked a senior State government official. Tamil Nadu has been vaccinating around 1 lakh people a day during the last 10 days.

Telangana, which has so far administered around 11.1 lakh vaccinations in all, however, claimed that there is no laxity on its part in rolling out the programme. “We have been allocated 11.42 lakh doses,” a State Health Department official said indicating that the State has almost used up all the shots allocated.

K Sudhakar, Karnataka’s Health Minister, similarly argued that the State has done reasonably well. It plans to increase the number of daily vaccinations to 3 lakh, he said adding that “people’s participation is very crucial for making the vaccination drive successful.”

Maharashtra, the first State to complete 50 lakh shots, hopes to target 3 lakh jabs a day. The State, which is fighting a worsening second wave, plans to ramp up vaccination. It has already requested the Centre to give additional doses, said Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.

According to Avinash Bhondwe, former president of Indian Medical Association (Maharashtra), more people are coming forward to take the vaccine as more than 50 lakh people who have taken the shot have not developed any major side-effects.

(With inputs from Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Mumbai Bureaus)

Published on March 26, 2021

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