Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Less than 60 per cent healthcare workers in India have been fully vaccinated against Covid so far, nearly five months after a nationwide inoculation drive was started for them in mid-January.
The number of healthcare workers in the country is about 1 crore and they are considered the most vulnerable to the infectious disease.
Union Health Ministry, in a review meeting on Covid vaccination in the country on Thursday underlined that while the national average for the first dose administration among for this category 82%, it is only 56% for the second dose.
Worryingly, in 18 states and Union Territories including Punjab, Maharashtra, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and Assam, the full vaccination coverage among healthcare workers is even lower than the national average.
Apart from low full vaccination coverage among this crucial category, less than half of the frontline workers in the country — numbering about 2 crores –have received two complete doses of vaccine yet.
For this priority group, while the national average of first dose coverage is 85%, it is only 47% for the second dose, with 19 states and UTs reporting even lower figures than this. Among them are Bihar, Haryana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry, Telangana, Karnataka, and Punjab.
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Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that the low full vaccination coverage for these two priority groups was a “serious concern”.
The universal vaccination coverage and full protection for these groups is crucial to protect healthcare response to pandemic, Bhushan told states, asking them to sharpen their focus and prepare effective plans for expediting the second dose administration.
States were also instructed to dedicate special time slots or sessions for the exercise.
Another worry for the Centre in the ongoing Covid vaccination drive is less than adequate private sector participation.
As per the government’s coronavirus vaccination policy, 25% of the vaccine stock can be procured by the private hospitals but in several states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Assam, their participation has been negligible owing to the limited presence and their unequal spread.
In the review meeting, states were alerted to the new features in the CoWIN portal which were incorporated in light of the new vaccination guidelines. Now, rectifications can be done in the personal information such as name, year of birth, gender and photo id number of the card.
The amendments also allow change in vaccine type, date of vaccination, vaccination events particularly not recorded in CoWIN for which users however will have to take the help of district immunization officers.
The government said that a feature to tag the existing Covid vaccination centres as urban and rural is also being provided.