There has been a lukewarm response to booster doses at private hospitals despite rise in Covid cases.
The Centre opened up precautionary vaccine doses (the third shot) for all aged 18 years and above from April 10. Paid vaccines have been made available in private vaccination centres only.
“It seems people are not greatly enthused about taking precautionary/booster doses across major cities. It looks, as if, they are waiting to see if there is going to be a fourth wave of Covid or not,” a senior executive with a leading corporate hospital chain, told BusinessLine.
Sanjay Pandey, Zonal Director, Fortis Hospitals, Chennai, also sees a similar trend. “People are not enquiring about vaccination anymore. We are not getting any query or walk-ins for booster dose. Keeping that in mind, we are maintaining low inventory of vaccines to avoid wastage. On a daily basis, we see a very few coming for vaccinations, but there is no big traction,” he said.
There are different reasons for the lack of enthusiasm among people. “People have become used to the current situation and they know that the third wave (of the pandemic) was not so severe, and even where the cases were there like Mumbai and Delhi, it was very mild. So, the fear in the minds of people has come down, and they think they can still manage even without vaccinations.’‘ Pandey added.
A significant deduction in price per dose of Covaxin and Covishield to ₹225 has not pepped up the demand for vaccines so far.
However, it is safe to go in for a booster dose. “With an uptick of cases in India, specifically Delhi, people must take the booster dose as and when they are eligible for it. It is not wise to wait for another wave to take the booster and people must get the immunity the booster offers before the wave sets in. This will help reduce the incidence and severity of the illness,” said K Hari Prasad, President, Apollo Group Hospitals.
However, the situation in Delhi, which is seeing a rise in new Covid-19 cases is little different.
According to Bishnu Panigrahi, Group Head, Medical Strategy and Operations, Fortis Healthcare, response to booster doses has been good.
“It’s encouraging to see the 18 plus age group taking their precautionary/ booster dose. This age group form major part of our population and also the most economically productive ones,” he said
However, Dr Panigrahi added that, the rise in cases is a concern.; while there has so far not been a major spike in hospitalisations like during the second brutal wave.
“It’s vaccination which has helped. The major shield should continue to be masks and this is not being used widely,” he added.