Over 900,000 eligible for booster doses today in Maharashtra
Over 900,000 healthcare workers, frontline workers and senior citizens including 182,000 in Mumbai will be eligible to take the Covid-19 precautionary shot starting Monday
Mumbai: Over 900,000 healthcare workers, frontline workers and senior citizens including 182,000 in Mumbai will be eligible to take the Covid-19 precautionary shot starting Monday. Going by the Centre’s mandate of the 39-week gap from the second dose, the state has considered April 10, 2021, as the cut-off date for Monday’s drive.
“Those who have received their second doses on or before April 10, 2021, will be eligible for the third dose on January 10,” said the state’s immunisation officer Dr Sachin Desai. “Every day more people will become eligible as they will fit into the 39-week mandate,” he said. For instance, those who have completed full vaccination on or before April 11 last year, will become eligible on Tuesday and so on.
Mumbai’s executive health officer Dr Mangala Gomare said that all precautionary measures will be taken at the centres to ensure social distancing. “The vaccinators will take the history of beneficiaries and anyone who has had the infection recently will be asked to wait till they have completed three months of recovery,” she said.
A large number of healthcare workers and frontline workers have tested positive for the infection over the past few days, thus making them ineligible for the booster shots immediately.
“Some people say that the infection is like a booster dose, but let’s not forget it’s a disease that affected these people,” said Vellore-based virologist Dr T Jacob John, adding that India should have started booster doses way back in November before the third wave had set in. “We could have had all of December to put up a fight with the wave. But instead, we have allowed the virus a free ground and have started a booster drive in a surging pandemic, which is unacceptable,” said John.
He also criticised the mandate for the 39-week gap. “All other countries in the West had a gap of six months for the booster shots, and many countries are now contemplating reducing it further to four months. It doesn’t make sense why India has instead issued a nine-month gap policy,” he said.
According to John, there is a possibility of many asymptomatic people, unaware of their infections, lining up for the boosters. “When the infections are surging, there will be many people with silent infections who will land up at the vaccination centres. The question is do we know how the third shot will behave in such population with an unknown, active infection,” he said.