Tamil Nadu

Only half of the elderly have taken first jab

Only a little over 50% of the targetted 60-plus population have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Tamil Nadu. With the elderly accounting for the lowest coverage among all age-wise categories, the Health Department is pushing for better coverage through door-to-door vaccination.

Of the 1,04,19,000 people aged above 60, 54,16,543 have received the first dose, accounting for 52% of the total in the group. About 31% of the elderly — 32,34,393 — are fully vaccinated. This coverage — both the first and second doses — is lower than that among other age groups. About 71% of those aged 18-44 and 85% of those aged 45-59 have received at least one dose (as on November 24). According to the data released by the Health Department this week, about 50 lakh people are yet to take the first dose in the 45-plus category, and a majority of them were aged above 60.

Doctors, based on interactions with the elderly, especially those visiting government hospitals, said initially, there were issues like lack of accessibility to the vaccination centres. “Now, the Government has organised camps locally, and is holding door-to-door campaigns too. The remaining unvaccinated population is probably resistant. It is very difficult to convince many of them as they come up with excuses such as co-morbidities or want opinions from their physicians or specialists,” a government doctor said.

G.S. Shanthi, head of the department, Geriatric Medicine, Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, said senior citizens should come forward to get vaccinated so that they will not fall sick or transmit infection to the unvaccinated. “To improve vaccination among the elderly, the dean had set up an exclusive vaccination centre at the geriatrics outpatient department,” she said.

T.S. Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, said house-to-house vaccination was one strategy to reach senior citizens with limited mobility. “The government can create sufficient facilities and organise vaccination camps close to their community, but the responsibility is also on the citizens to come forward and take the vaccine. Considering the high mortality among senior citizens, we are requesting family members who have senior citizens at home to persuade them to take the shot at the earliest,” he said.

With only 31% of them getting the second dose, Dr. Selvavinayagam said the second jab was important for the elderly. The second dose was delayed not only among the elderly but also among all other categories. “As of now, around 75 lakh people are due for the second dose, and soon, the number will cross one crore, with the coverage of mega camps,” he said.

Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan said the elderly had a higher risk due to co-morbidities. Dr. Shanthi said the Greater Chennai Corporation could prepare a list of the unvaccinated elderly and call them up.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 21, 2022 9:06:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/only-half-of-the-elderly-have-taken-first-jab/article37730992.ece

Next Story