Day 1 of booster shot: 5% eligible beneficiaries jabbed
Maharashtra has 935,810 eligible beneficiaries — health care, frontline workers and the citizens over 60 years of age (with co-morbidities)
Mumbai: Maharashtra administered 49,307 booster doses to health care workers, frontline workers and senior citizens on Monday, the first day of the much awaited national vaccination drive for the third dose, dubbed ‘precautionary dose’. Mumbai administered the highest number of boosters (10,698) in the state, followed by Pune (6,638) and Thane (4,692).
Maharashtra has 935,810 eligible beneficiaries — health care, frontline workers and the citizens over 60 years of age (with co-morbidities) — which means that the state administered the booster dose to 5.2% of them on Day 1. In the state, Mumbai has the highest number of beneficiaries with 186,088, followed by Pune (102,947), Thane (81,736), Nagpur (44,393) and Nashik (45,003).
In Mumbai, only 6% of the 88,892 eligible health care workers, 2.2% of eligible frontline workers (80,969), and 30% of eligible senior citizens with co-morbidities (12,139) turned up on Monday. In all, 5.7% of the eligible beneficiaries in the city (186,088) turned up to take the shots.
“We were expecting a turnout of at least 100,000 to 200,000 people,” said the state’s immunisation officer Dr Sachin Desai. “Hopefully, the response will be better in the coming days,” he said.
Desai said that active or recent infections among people due to the ongoing surge could be the reason behind low turnout.
Prime minister Narendra Modi announced the roll out of precautionary doses last month as a measure to stem the tide of Covid-19 infections. The first part of the drive was to be rolled out to health care and frontline workers, as well as citizens above the age of 60 years, with co-morbidities. Together, these groups constitute some of the most vulnerable to the pandemic, and were also part of the initial recipients of the national vaccination drive that started last January.
“We received a great response from senior citizens for the precaution dose,” said Dr Neelam Andrade, dean of the civic-run jumbo facility in NESCO, Goregaon. By 2 pm on Monday, the centre had administered 700 booster doses, of which 613 were senior citizens, and the remaining were health care and frontline workers.
A large number of health care workers have been infected in the third wave of the pandemic, making them ineligible to take boosters until three months from recovery as per the protocol set by the Centre.
As of Monday, Maharashtra had 206,046 active Covid-19 cases, and the majority —103,862 — were in Mumbai. While the wave in Mumbai seemed to be stabilising with a decline in cases over the past four days, the caseload in Mumbai’s periphery and other parts of Maharashtra are expected to rise in the coming days.
“We had a reasonable prediction of the third wave, and could have started the booster doses way earlier,” said Dr Lancelot Pinto, a respiratory medicine expert from PD Hinduja Hospital, who got his booster shot on Monday.
“While it is too late for Mumbai, there are other areas that are yet to see a surge. There should be tremendous focus on getting people vaccinated and administering the booster doses in such places where a surge is likely,” he said.
Maharashtra’s first dose coverage is over 90%, while 60% of the population is fully vaccinated . In Mumbai, the first dose coverage has crossed 100%, while full vaccination coverage is over 90%.
The beneficiaries for the booster dose received a message from CoWin informing them about their eligibility. While the state had considered April 10, 2021, as the cut off for the first day, people who have received their second dose on or before April 11 will become eligible on Tuesday. “Every day, about 60,000 odd more beneficiaries will become eligible for boosters,” said immunisation officer Desai.
A senior doctor said that almost all the staff at their hospital had taken boosters from the extra doses available in the vials. One vaccine vial is meant for administering 10 doses, but manufacturers commonly overfill them to cover any spillage or wastage, and careful extraction can thus yield 11 to 12 doses. “We will now register them onto the portal if they need a certificate. Eventually, the numbers will average out,” the doctor told HT on condition of anonymity.
“We have got good response for the precautionary doses. The number of beneficiaries will keep increasing every day. We have been tapping the elderly people eligible for the dose through our Har Ghar Dastak drive for the awareness among them. The overall vaccination rate because of the fresh wave of the Covid-19 has gone up of late. We expect good response for the precautionary dose too because of it,” said Desai.
Dr PD Gandhal, deputy director, Nashik Division comprising five districts, said, “We have received very good response from the eligible beneficiaries for the precautionary dose in our division. The inauguration of the booster dose drive was done by divisional commissioner and other senior officers by taking their doses. There is awareness among the health care and frontline workers about the drive and I think we will be able to vaccinate beneficiaries in due course.”
In Navi Mumbai, , 621 beneficiaries and in Thane, 928 were given the booster dose.
The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation had organised the booster doses of vaccination at General hospitals of NMMC at Vashi, Nerul and Airoli and Mother and Child hospital in Turbhe along with all the 23 primary civic health centers. A total of 621 beneficiaries received their booster dose on Monday of which 299 were health care workers (HCW), 206 were front line workers (FLW) and 116 beneficiaries were citizens above the age of 60.
“FLW, HCW and citizen above the age of 60 who have received a second dose of the Covid vaccine on or before 12 April 2021are eligible for the vaccine. We have urged all the eligible to come forward and get their booster doses. Third wave is a sign that the immunity of the people have now gone down and the booster dose is important,” NMMC commissioner Abhijit Bangar said. The booster dose will be available at the same centres on Tuesday as well.
The precautionary dose of covid vaccine will be given free of cost to the corona warriors as well as civilians above 60 years of age at the immunization centers at NMMC centres.
In Raigad district, a total of 1,046 beneficiaries got booster doses.
(With inputs from Raina Shine)