Tamil Nadu

Coronavirus | Tamil Nadu tops in extra doses, posts nil vaccine wastage

Recipients await their turn at a COVID-19 vaccination camp in Chennai. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Over the past couple of months, Tamil Nadu has not only managed to achieve zero wastage of COVID-19 vaccines, but has also extracted as many as 5,88,243 extra doses of vaccines, according to data provided by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Free supply remains low

Despite the State posting zero vaccine wastage and extracting the highest number of extra doses in the country, the free vaccine supply it has received from the Centre is low when compared to a few other major States — a factor that health officials feel should change in order to improve vaccination coverage.

Coronavirus | Tamil Nadu tops in extra doses, posts nil vaccine wastage

Data provided as an annexure to a statement on COVID-19 vaccination by Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya in the Lok Sabha on July 23 showed there was no wastage of vaccine doses in Tamil Nadu between May 1 and July 13 this year.

During the same period, the State extracted 5,88,243 extra doses — the highest in the country. West Bengal and Gujarat followed with 4,87,147 and 4,62,819 extra doses, respectively.

The State earlier accounted for about 6% vaccine wastage. Officials attributed the wastage to initial hesitancy among healthcare and frontline workers in getting vaccinated and the supply of 20-dose vials. When a 20-dose vial was opened, only eight to 10 persons came for vaccination due to vaccine hesitancy, resulting in wastage.

So how did the State manage to avoid wastage? Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan said, “This was done by ensuring that the extra dose available in each vial was fully utilised, and that the last vial was opened only when sufficient numbers equal to doses were available.”

T.S. Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, said the awareness on vaccination among the general public was high, and they were demanding vaccines. Extraction of extra doses was done scientifically and technically, with each beneficiary receiving an accurate dose of 0.5 ml, officials said. The factors that enabled extraction of extra doses were overfill, dead space in syringes and efficiency of health workers, he said.

In the concept of overfill by manufacturers, an additional dose of 16% to 24% is provided in a 10-dose vial (5 ml). Similarly, utilising syringes with low dead space — auto disable syringes — also helps. As a result of these factors, 11 to 12 persons could be vaccinated using a vial, he explained. “Efficiency of health workers is critical,” he added.

The data also revealed that the State, as of July 20, received 1,50,57,290 free vaccine doses from the Centre. This was less when compared to other major States. Uttar Pradesh received 3,44,61,550 doses, followed by Maharashtra with 3,14,78,860 and Gujarat with 2,58,68,770 doses. Four other States, including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, received over two crore vaccine doses each.

While officials noted that there were some differences in the data on the number of doses supplied to the State, they emphasised that the allocation of vaccines should be on the basis of the population of a State. Apart from the free supply, Tamil Nadu made a direct purchase of 29.18 lakh doses.

“We need to be allocated additional doses to compensate for the short supply,” Dr. Selvavinayagam said.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 11:13:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/despite-good-vaccination-performance-free-supply-remains-relatively-low/article35517284.ece

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