15 million yet to get a jab in state
As many as 15 million people in Maharashtra are yet to take even a single dose of the vaccine, while the state’s full vaccination or the two-dose coverage has reached 48%
Mumbai The state health authorities are racing against time to achieve 100% first dose coverage of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the year. As many as 15 million people in Maharashtra are yet to take even a single dose of the vaccine, while the state’s full vaccination or the two-dose coverage has reached 48%, which is below India’s average of 50%.
The state’s target adult population is 91.5 million. By Tuesday evening, the state had administered over 120 million doses - more than 76 million people had received at least one dose and 43 million people had received both the doses, according to the CoWin dashboard. The need for vaccination has been repeatedly stressed upon by medical experts in the light of the emergence of the highly mutated Omicron variant.
A pool of unvaccinated population can be a reservoir for the virus and its transmission, warned experts. “Clusters of the unvaccinated population will act as a driver of the transmission,” said virologist Dr T Jacob John. “It’s not good news if a state has a large pool of unvaccinated population, in addition to the below 18 population that is not yet eligible for the vaccines. The virus is constantly looking for susceptible hosts and such a pool can lead to a surge in cases,” he said.
According to John, the state government should leave no stone unturned to vaccinate people with first doses, get people to take their second doses on time and start thinking about booster doses and vaccinations for the below 18 population.
Barring three districts- Nandurbar, Nanded and Beed- all other districts have achieved first dose coverage above 70%. The threat of the Omicron variant has also driven many people to take their shots, said health officials. For Maharashtra to achieve the year-end target, the state will have to administer 625,000 first doses every day till December 31. “The pace of the vaccination has picked up since the past 10 days and we have been administering nearly one million doses daily,” said the state’s immunisation officer Dr Sachin Desai. “About 65% of the daily doses are first doses. We have directed all field health workers to keep visiting the homes of people who are yet to be vaccinated and ensure that they take the jabs. We are also setting up call centres in districts to send reminders to people who have missed out on their second doses,” he said.
“People must understand that vaccines may not offer 100% protection but in case one contracts the infection, the vaccine will definitely lessen the severity of the disease,” said Dr Vasant Nagvekar, a member of the state’s Covid-19 task force.