Tamil Nadu improves vaccine utilisation rate

But the lack of adequate supply is slowing the inoculation drive

July 15, 2021 02:43 am | Updated 02:43 am IST - CHENNAI

Tamil Nadu is improving its COVID-19 vaccine utilisation rate, but lack of adequate supply has been slowing the drive. Right now, the overall vaccination performance against supply stands at 97%, with 10 health unit districts (HUDs) achieving utilisation of 100% or more.

From facing vaccine hesitancy earlier, the State is witnessing a growing demand. The need of the hour is increased supply. “Now, we are running with one to two days of stock. Our team can plan vaccination in the peripheral areas if we have the stock for a week. We are not in a comfortable position and we are pushing the stock as and when we get it,” said T.S. Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. Of the 71 lakh doses allotted for the State this month, 20 lakh doses have so far been supplied. “Right now, our routine is to manage with 3.5 lakh doses to 4 lakh doses. However, we will be in a good position if we have five lakh doses a day,” he said.

Data released by the Directorate of Public Health (DPH) and Preventive Medicine showed that as of July 11, the total doses supplied was 1,67,88,460. Of them, 1,62,61,985 doses were administered. Except for Ramanathapuram and Aranthangi, where the performance stood at 85% and 88% respectively, the remaining 43 HUDs recorded over 90%. Ten HUDs have utilisation of 100% or more — Cheyyar (102%), Erode (100%), Karur (104%), Krishnagiri (100%), Nagapattinam (103%), Kanniyakumari (103%), Sivakasi (101%), Tenkasi (102%), Tiruchi (100%) and Tiruppur (104%). Chennai, which received 28,63,750 doses, has utilised 26,96,252 doses, a performance of 94%. Coimbatore and Madurai recorded 97% and 99% respectively.

Earlier, in an explainer, the DPH laid down the factors for administration of more doses, against the doses supplied — overfill, dead space in syringe and efficiency of healthcare workers. Each person is administered 0.5 ml. “It is scientifically and technically possible and permissible to vaccinate 11 to 12 persons using a 10-dose vial. This does not affect the accurate dose,” it said.

Vaccine manufacturers provided additional doses of 16% to 24% in a 5-ml vial, allowing healthcare workers to administer 11 to 12 doses. Next was the use of syringes with low dead space. “Tamil Nadu uses auto disable syringes that are specially designed for immunisation. This syringe has low dead space,” Dr. Selvavinayagam said.

Better awareness

From a time when vaccines were wasted with fewer takers, the demand has improved, thanks to better awareness over the months. Officials said the State had earlier accounted for 6% vaccine wastage. “The efficiency of our health workers has improved,” Dr. Selvavinayagam said. Health workers have been asked to utilise the additional dose only if it is the accurate dose and not to take from another vial.

M. Sangeetha, Deputy Director of Health Services, Cheyyar HUD, formed a mobile medical team and a static medical team. Each team comprises a doctor, a staff nurse and a health assistant. “This mobile team vaccinates people gathered at a place and moves on to the second spot to ensure that doses are not wasted and the vaccine is administered in the four-hour period. The second team stays at the site to check the post-vaccination well-being of the beneficiaries. This way, we ensure no doses are wasted,” she said.

V. Anand Kumar, nodal officer of Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Speciality Hospital, Omandurar Estate, where 300-350 persons are vaccinated a day, said, “We decide according to the crowd at the vaccination centre. For instance, if we have 300 persons at 10 a.m., we allocate 30 vials. Those coming after 11 a.m. are informed of the need to have 10 persons to open a vial... Some of them wait, while some return the next day. We want to ensure that not a single dose is wasted, and people are co-operative. It is a simple policy but needs to be followed meticulously.”

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