Low turnout for the shot as six states vaccinate 17,000 on Sunday

Tamil Nadu gave the shot to a little over 3,000 health workers against a capacity of nearly 15,000 on Sunday
India vaccinated over 17,000 health care workers in 553 sessions on the second day of the Covid vaccination drive across six states, taking the total number of vaccinations to 224,301. There were more than 400 adverse events following the jab, such as fever, headache and nausea, the health ministry said on Sunday.

The number of vaccinations has been less than half the targeted number, given the government planned to vaccinate 100 beneficiaries per session, for reasons ranging from lack of confidence in the vaccine to technical glitches.  

According to the updated figures shared by the health ministry, one the first day of the vaccine launch India had administered the first dose of the Covid antidote to 207,229 beneficiaries — the highest Day One vaccinations in the world, ahead of the UK, the US, and France. However, the number fell short by almost 100,000 in reaching the expected target, with several health workers either not showing up or not willing to take the vaccine being offered.

On Day One, for instance, a controversy had erupted after a letter by Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital doctors was made public, citing apprehension by doctors in taking Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin vaccine instead of Serum Institute’s Covishield, which was being administered in Delhi’s state hospitals.
Tamil Nadu gave the shot to a little over 3,000 health workers, against a capacity of nearly 15,000 on Sunday. “We don’t go by a daily vaccination target. Our vaccination drive is based on demand,” said Dr Radhakrishnan, adding that leading doctors had taken the vaccine on Day One, while the health department would expand the vaccination drive in the coming days.

Government Stanley Hospital’s Dean P Balaji added that many employees had gone to their native place to celebrate Pongal and from Monday onwards, more health care frontline workers would get the jab.

At Stanley, they managed to vaccinate only about two nurses of the 25 registered ones.

Some nurses said they wanted to wait till the other doctors got inoculated. Others said they were facing pressure from families to not get the Covid shot.

Top doctors, including State Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan, of the state got vaccinated on Sunday to instil confidence. He said the drive would pick pace gradually.

On the low turnout, Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendra Jain said, “It can only be speculated why people did not show up... It is voluntary even after registration. The trend in Delhi has been the same as the rest of the country.”

While most of the 447 adverse events reported after vaccination were minor, three people needed hospital admission. One of them was discharged from the Northern Railway hospital in Delhi within 24 hours and another from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). The third patient is under observation at AIIMS, Rishikesh, and is reportedly stable.

The health ministry has received several complaints from states regarding the CoWIN app, which is the backbone of the entire vaccination drive. States were unable to upload sessions and could not access beneficiary details online.

In many states, including West Bengal, hospitals were selecting beneficiaries manually from the list of registered health workers and partially using the digital platform. “As of now, we are going ahead with the vaccination on Monday, but a final call will be taken after seeing the preparations in the evening,” said officials.

In Maharashtra, too, doctors and nurses who got the doses on Saturday received telephone calls from ward offices asking them to inoculate.

States have selected days in the week when they would vaccinate health workers to ensure regular immunisation work is carried out smoothly.

Lack of coordination between Maharashtra government and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials on Saturday led to conflicting messages on deferring the vaccination drive.

While BMC issued a statement saying the vaccination drive has been pushed back to Monday due to unresolved issues in the CoWIN app, state officials denied any such deferral.

“Vaccination was not at all planned on Sunday. There was no question of cancellation,” said state Health Secretary Pradeep Vyas.

Most states have picked four days in the week, except Andhra Pradesh which can vaccinate on all six days, except Sunday. Uttar Pradesh will limit itself to two days in a week and scale it up in the coming weeks.

Karnataka, which held vaccinations on Sunday, witnessed some adverse events. “We are in no hurry to complete the vaccination drive within one week. We are continuing with it in such a manner that our routine services like maternal and child health care are not hampered,” said state Deputy Director (Immunisation) Rajani Nageshrao.

According to the state’s health department, Covishield will be administered in 237 centres, and Covaxin in six centres, including Bellary, Shimoga, Hassan, Chikmagalur, Chamarajnagar, and Davanagere.

The government had despatched Covaxin to 12 states, while Covishield had been supplied across all states and Union Territories.


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