Low turnout for Covid jabs continues as 6 states vaccinate only 20% of healthcare workers

Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Six states have less than or just about 20% of their healthcare workers immunised against Covid-19 so far, the Centre said on Thursday even as the mammoth vaccination drive reached a crucial milestone of administering first jabs to one-fourth of the medical workers in the country.

Apart from Delhi, the states with low Covid-19 vaccination coverage so far include Jharkhand, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, and Maharashtra.

“We are in touch with these states,” said Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan in a press briefing.

According to the officials, the trend in these states is worrisome as some of them — mainly Delhi, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra — are the ones among those with the highest healthcare worker density in India.

As per the details shared, Lakshadweep, Odisha, Haryana, Andaman and Nicobar islands, Rajasthan, Tripura, and Mizoram lead in vaccinating healthcare workers in the first phase, and Lakshadweep has already got over 80% of the most prioritised group vaccinated.

Among the larger states, Odisha already has seen over 50% of healthcare workers receive the first jabs.

Even as the Covid-19 vaccination numbers crossed the 25 lakh-mark on Thursday afternoon, nearly two weeks after the drive was launched, vaccine hesitancy has emerged as a major concern for the Centre.

“India was the fastest to reach the first 1 million vaccinations. We achieved this within 6 days, US did this in 10 days, Spain in 12 days, Israel in 14 days, UK in 18 days, Italy in 19 days, Germany in 20 days and UAE in 27 days,” Bhushan pointed out.

Other officials in the health ministry maintained that a no-show by a large number of healthcare workers, the only group numbering about 1 crore, being offered the vaccine at present, has triggered additional worries for the government.

“States really need to accelerate its vaccination process, as it is not just about completing the first phase of vaccination within the stipulated time, but also the fact that the vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin — have a shelf life of only six months,” said an official.

Also, he added, if the coverage is poor among the first prioritised group, it will reflect badly on the upcoming extension of the vaccination drive when the inoculation is opened to nearly 2 crore frontline workers and those above 50 years and people who have serious comorbidities.

As per the estimates, at least a million people need to be vaccinated in the country daily if the Centre has to achieve its target of immunising 30 crore people over the next 7-8 months.

States with the highest Covid19 vaccination coverage (in percentage)

Andaman and Nicobar Islands—48.3
States with the lowest coverage

Jharkhand—14. 7
Tamil Nadu—15.7