Mumbai crosses 100% first vaccine dose coverage
As of 9.30pm on Saturday, 9,253,624 persons in Mumbai had received the first dose of the vaccine that helps guard against severe infection and death by Sars-CoV-2, the virus that has infected 253,436,774 people worldwide
Ten months after the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination programme was rolled out on January 16,Mumbai achieved 100% first dose coverage on Saturday.
As of 9.30 pm on November 13, 9,253,624 persons had received the first dose of the vaccine that helps guard against severe infection and death by Sars-CoV-2, the virus that has infected 253,436,774 people worldwide. The city’s target adult population is officially 9,236,546.
According to the government-run CoWin platform, more than six million (nearly 65% of the target population) had received the second dose in Mumbai as of Saturday night.
There are currently two vaccines that form part of the national vaccination programme, and which are being rolled out in the city: Covidshield, manufactured by the Serum India Institute (SII) in Pune and developed by Astra-Zeneca and Oxford University; and Covaxin, an indigenous Covid-19 vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Apart from this, Sputnik produced by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute is also available in private centres. There are three other vaccines that have received Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA), but these are not available in the market at present.
Mumbai launched the first phase with just 10 vaccinations centres. The city gradually increased the centres — it now has 462 public and private vaccination centres with a capacity to conduct 23,000 vaccinations every day. Getting here was not easy. One of the main challenges that the civic body faced was supply crunch. In the initial days of the national vaccination programme, when it opened up to include all adults above the age of 45 (starting April 1), the supply of vaccines from SII and Bharat Biotech could not match the demand that surged around the country. At the same time, the city also began to experience a deadlier second wave of the pandemic, forcing the state into another partial lockdown between April and August. As a result several vaccine centres remained shut for days on end.
The civic body developed a communication strategy that informed people of which centres were open on any given day, and the number of doses available. Even so, many centres ran out of supply leaving citizens stranded.
“No other district in the country has managed to reach the 100% target in such short time,” additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said. “It has been a collective effort. We achieved it because of the sincere contribution of all municipal workers, private hospitals, NGOs and people on the ground,” he said.
To be sure, the city’s statistical milestone though significant does not imply that every person in Mumbai has received one dose of the vaccine. The civic body estimates that nearly 20% of the population which has received the vaccine came from other parts of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) or other districts. Besides, a small percentage of the population are still choosing to remain unvaccinated due to hesitancy. For instance, a door to door vaccination drive conducted by the Thane Municipal Corporation in the past four days reached out to around 20,000 unvaccinated adults. The BMC has also started a similar exercise to enumerate the number of people who are as yet unvaccinated — BMC field staff are making residential visits around the city to ask Mumbaiites whether they have been vaccinated or not. Their job also entails convincing these persons to get vaccinated and to follow up with residents.
Reaching the milestone
According to Kakani, decentralising vaccination centres played a crucial role in achieving the target. As the city moves to increase its first dose coverage beyond 100% and achieve the second dose target, new, micro strategies are being designed.
“In the coming days, we will implement newer, vigorous strategies to get every single person in the city vaccinated. There will be door to door campaigns, mobile vaccination drives, camps in slums pockets with lower coverage and targets to achieve 100% vaccinations in housing societies. These strategies will help reach us to every single person,” he said.
Infectious disease expert and member of Maharashtra’s Covid-19 task force Dr Om Srivastava said, “It definitely means that the city has is more protected, but this should not be taken as an excuse to let our guards down. The virus is unpredictable, and there are countries that are seeing large number of cases even now. France, for instance has now announced that they are experiencing the fifth wave,” he said.
According to Srivastava, Russia, which has high vaccination coverage is also going through a similar surge. “It is difficult to predict how the virus will behave in different countries, despite vaccination,” he said.
On Friday, World Health Organization’s director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus highlighted that Covid cases were not only surging in countries in Eastern Europe with lower vaccination rates, but also in countries with some of the world’s highest vaccination rates in Western Europe.
”Mumbai’s has shown us that 100% vaccination is achievable. Other districts in the country should follow suit,” Dr Naveen Thacker, a former representative to GAVI, the vaccine alliance said that coverage offers hope at a time when schools and colleges are reopening and lockdown restrictions have been lifted. “This wide coverage should be a good barrier between the city and the anticipated third wave,” he said.