Efforts on to step up coverage in phase 2 of COVID-19 vaccination drive in Puducherry

Status check: Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan inspecting the vaccination facility at the Indira Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute recently.  

As the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme broadens in scope to target beneficiaries, including persons above 60 and those above 45 with comorbidities from Monday, health authorities are looking for ways to improve the dismal immunisation coverage.

Since, the vaccination drive began in Puducherry, 10,329 personnel, including 9,589 healthcare workers, have undergone immunisation. Vaccination for healthcare personnel has been on for 28 days while the drive has been on for 17 days for frontline workers.

“Now that the vaccination will be available to the public on a walk-in basis at any of the 17 government-run facilities, we hope that the programme picks up pace,” said S. Mohan Kumar, Director of Health Services. Senior citizens can visit any facility with documentary proof of age and those above 45 years can produce a certificate of their medical condition to get themselves vaccinated.

At present, only about 33% of the targeted population has been administered the first dose. And, of this, barely 25% have completed their second dose. “What this means, that as a society, a significant proportion of the population, including those who have been vaccinated with the first dose, remain vulnerable as it takes about two weeks after the second shot for the body to develop full immunity protection to the virus,” Dr. Mohan Kumar said.

There is also a new urgency in getting vaccinated in the wake of reports of a second wave of COVID-19 in several States, he pointed out. Officials also pointed out that since the roll out of the vaccination programme in the country, reports of adverse reactions have been negligible and hopefully more people overcome their misplaced fears of getting a jab in the second phase.

The Health Department, which had received a consignment of 81,000 doses, now has a stock of 70,000 doses. As part of efforts to boost immunisation coverage, health officials have been asking all medical colleges, including private institutions, to get their staff administered vaccines.

At least four committees across different levels of administration are holding consultations regularly to devise methods to improve vaccination coverage in the Union Territory. Recently, a high-powered panel chaired by Lt. Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan has been constituted. The 22-member panel has been specifically formed to monitor and upscale vaccination activities and control measures across the Union Territory.

Ahead of the roll out of phase 2 vaccination, the Centre has held a meeting with all States and Union Territories to review progress of the drives with a focus on improving pace. They were advised to expand vaccination sessions to all public healthcare facilities along with CGHS & PM-JAY empanelled hospitals from March.

According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, while Rajasthan, Lakshadweep, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have vaccinated over 75% of the registered healthcare and frontline workers for the first dose, Puducherry sits alongside the ones that have reported less than 50% coverage alongside Nagaland, Punjab and Chandigarh.

In fact, the coverage of frontline workers has been abysmal in the close to three weeks it has been operational. Puducherry is among the eight States/Union Territories that have reported less than 25% coverage for the first dose. The post-vaccination hospitalisation events comprised 0.0004% of the total vaccinations. The fatalities (45 deaths) after vaccination comprised 0.0004%, while at the same time, no case of serious/severe AEFI/death had been attributable to vaccination, till date, the Ministry stated.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 4:55:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/efforts-on-to-step-up-coverage-in-phase-2-of-covid-19-vaccination-drive-in-puducherry/article33957762.ece

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