India’s sudden policy change on eligible group of population for vaccination is believed to have stymied the orderly progress of vaccination drive in the country, experts noted.

Started from January 2021, India opted for a phased vaccination programme giving priority to different age groups based on their vulnerability to infection and occupational requirements. But the vaccination programme was opened up for all above 18 years of age irrespective of vulnerability or occupational preferences from May 1 onward. Experts hold it responsible for the severe stress on the vaccine supplies.

Dr Suresh Jadhav, Executive Director, Serum Institute of India Pvt Ltd (SII), said, “Initially, 300 million people (were) targeted for vaccination for which 600 million dosages of vaccines were required, but before we reached the target, additional age groups were added starting from 45 years onwards followed by 18 years onwards.”

Speaking at a webinar organised by HEAL Foundation and knowledge partner Brand Wagon Club - 17th Episode of HEAL-Thy Samvaad, Dr Jadhav said, “We should have followed the WHO guidelines and prioritised the vaccination accordingly to avoid scarcity. Still, 50 per cent of paramedical staff haven’t been vaccinated.”

Dr Jadhav emphasised that the vaccination was essential. “But even after vaccination, you are susceptible. Therefore, be cautious and follow the Covid preventive guidelines. Although the double mutant variants are neutralised, yet variants can create problems in vaccination.”

“As far as the selection of vaccine is concerned, as per CDC and NIH data, whatever vaccine is available can be taken provided it is licensed by the regulatory body. And it is too early to say which vaccine is efficacious and which is not,” he added.

Dr Sanjay Kumar Rai, Professor, Department of Community Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi, Dr Amitav Banerjee, from Dr DY Patil Medical College & Hospital, Pune among other experts discussed about the lessons learnt from the current second wave.

Dr Swadeep Srivastava, Founder, HEAL Health Group commented that amid the vaccination drive, the rage of infection went on to surge, making the people confused whether the vaccines are efficacious or not. “To combat the Covid 3.0, we need to follow the Covid preventive measures stringently and get vaccinated compulsorily.”

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