February 16, 2021 12:39:07 am
Over 9,200 of the 11,800 persons who were given the first shot of Covid-19 vaccine on January 16, were given the second dose on Monday, even as some gave it a miss.
As per state health authorities, the existing policy gives a flexibility of “four weeks and beyond” for taking the second dose, after the first dose.
Nayan Jani, state immunisation officer, said liberty has also been given to take the second shot from a place of their choice. Infectious disease specialist Dr Atul Patel and rheumatologist Dr Sapan Pandya, who were inoculated at the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital on January 16, took the second dose at Sterling Hospital instead.
About the nearly 2,600 who did not take the second shot, as per Jani, “the reasons ranged from shifting cities (and were unaware that they can take the second dose anywhere) to being busy with functions and events around Vasant Panchami”.
“There is no mention of when the second dose is to be given after 28 days in our policy (central government guidelines)… it can be after 40 days, 50 days. But it is the herd immunity that matters more than individual immunity,” added Jani.
According to NHM Gujarat director MA Pandya, a deadline of February 20 has been set to complete the vaccination of nearly 4.5 lakh health workers. Jani says nearly 4.1 lakh have been covered already, which is nearly 90 per cent. However, most municipal corporation areas have fared worse in terms of inoculating health workers, compared to smaller districts, partly owing to fewer number of healthcare workers.
According to an Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) official, about 63 per cent (54,000) of the nearly 85,000 health workers in its
jurisdiction have been covered. Apart from hesitancy, there are contraindications where some women are pregnant, some others lactating and some others on certain medications.
Pinkal Patel, staff nurse at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, who had also taken the dose on January 16, attested to the same, saying some from the nursing department had cited such reasons for not taking the vaccine. She took the second shot at around 10 am on Monday, she says.
From the high-profile event of January 16 where Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy CM Nitin Patel were present at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital to support the top state brass of medical professionals for their first shot, the second shot was a tepid affair.
Gandhidham-based pediatrician and executive director at IPA, Dr Naveen Thacker who was the first to take the shot in Gujarat in Ahmedabad in the presence of CM and deputy CM, is yet to take the second dose owing to personal commitments but plans to take it soon.
Some other health professionals, cited the recent February 10 recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that stated taking the second dose between 8 to 12 weeks is the most efficacious, as a reason for delaying the second dose.
Dr Thacker says, “The WHO recommendations were made keeping in mind the explosive Covid-19 situation in the UK and to buy time for procuring more doses. If you increase the interval between doses, efficacy, immunogenicity, etc improves. But there is always a trade off between what we can achieve at an individual level and what we can achieve as part of a routine programme…”
Meanwhile, with the commencement of the second dose, first dose takers will see a slowdown. Both Pandya and Jani assured this is not a concern since majority of healthcare workers and frontline workers have been covered.
On Monday, the central government also decided to include Railway Protection Force under the category of frontline workers. As per Jani, registration for frontline workers for vaccination is expected to remain open until February 17. On Monday, 5,000-odd beneficiaries received the first dose in addition to the 9,200 who took the second dose. On Saturday, 17,000 took the first dose.
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