Kerala

Vaccine paucity may hit mass drive

The State government’s ambitious plan to vaccinate all individuals above 45 years in 45 days to contain the second wave of COVID-19 transmission could be put on hold because of fast-depleting vaccine stocks.

While Health officials are tight-lipped about the vaccine stock position, many district health administrations openly expressed their anxiety about the precarious stock position, given the fact that mass vaccination camps were being planned in all districts in the coming weeks.

“We have adequate vaccine stock to manage for three days. An additional 68,000 doses we might receive next week. But this is not enough to run mass vaccination camps as was being planned. Right now, we have about 40,000 doses in stock in Thiruvananthapuram district,” a health official here said.

Vaccine shortage is being felt acutely in other regions too. The slow pace of vaccination and the apparent disinterest shown by the public have been giving anxious moments to the Health Department. The pace of vaccination was expected to pick up after the elections as mobilisation of local bodies and their active involvement alone could get more people to vaccination centres.

With the COVID-19 case graph beginning to soar as has been happening in rest of the country, the Health Department has called for a two-pronged strategy to beat the virus. This meant reducing the pace of disease transmission through the ‘Back to Basics’ campaign and ramping up vaccination in the 45 plus age group.

“We went ahead and mobilised all panchayats and municipalities to intensify the drive. All plans were laid out for setting up mass vaccination camps. We will lose the momentum now if vaccines are not made available in sufficient quantities. And we have had no communication from the higher officials on how we are expected to manage the crisis,” a Health official in one of the northern districts said.

The government had directed that vaccinations be made available in all PHCs. The private sector hospitals too are dependent on the government for their vaccine supplies.

All three regions – Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Kozhikode – have just adequate stocks, but no where near to run mass vaccination camps.

The targeted first dose requirement in the 45 plus group would come to 1,13,75,715 of which, the State has delivered 31,63,818 doses (28%). A total of 45,794 second dose vaccine too have been delivered.

“The State now has about 10 lakh doses available in stock. An additional 4,74,000 doses is expected to arrive after April 15. Like other States, we have also informed the Centre of our immediate requirement of more vaccines,” a senior Health official said.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 5:51:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/vaccine-paucity-may-hit-mass-drive/article34290876.ece

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