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Gujarat Covid vaccination: Most civic bodies see tepid response, coverage better in smaller districts

Municipal corporations such as Vadodara, Rajkot, Gandhinagar, Rajkot, Junagadh, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar have seen a tepid response. On the other hand, smaller districts such as Mehsana, Banaskantha, Anand and Dahod have seen better vaccine coverage.

Written by Sohini Ghosh | Ahmedabad |
March 27, 2021 9:07:44 am
Gujarat Covid vaccination, Gujarat COVID-19 cases, Covid-19 vaccine, Gujarat vacciantion status, Ahmedabad coronavirus vaccine, Surat COVID-19 vaccine, gujarat news, indian expressA policeman receives a dose of COVISHIELD, a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, at a vaccination centre in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. (PTI Photo)

As Gujarat reports a surge in daily cases of Covid-19 – recording a new high of 2,190 Friday — the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, where the maximum cases are being reported, is also seeing the highest vaccination across the 33 districts and eight municipal corporations in the state.

However, municipal corporations such as Vadodara, Rajkot, Gandhinagar, Rajkot, Junagadh, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar have seen a tepid response. On the other hand, smaller districts such as Mehsana, Banaskantha, Anand and Dahod have seen better vaccine coverage.

Ahmedabad recorded the highest ever vaccinations on Friday crossing 25,000. “This will continue in the coming days as well,”said Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s (AMC’s) Medical Officer of Health Dr Bhavin Solanki.

Mehsana, which is also home to Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who also holds the health portfolio, picked up pace starting March 21 when it vaccinated a total of 13,688 people, the highest single-day vaccination seen in the district. Over 1.04 lakh of the elderly population has been covered in the district till date of the total 1.69 lakh who received the doses.

However, while 15 percent of the 40.60 lakh who received the first dose across the state have completed inoculation with their second dose, Mehsana sees a lower second dose uptake, with 13 per cent of the 1.50 lakh first dose takers, receiving their first dose.

Several health officers at Mehsana acknowledged that until a week ago, Mehsana would rank among the lowest in daily vaccination numbers across the state. Chief district health officer at Mehsana Vishnu Patel said, “We had limited session sites and only last week, we tripled the number of session sites which saw a huge impact. (Mehsana currently has 151 sites conducting vaccination)… Earlier we would be able to vaccinate 3,000-4,000 people a day but since last week this has now gone up to 12,000 -13,000 a day.”

Resistance continues from specific communities in Mehsana with one such community citing that they reside in the rural parts and do not have to interact with other people, but the health officials are engaging local leaders to counsel them, adds the health officer.

Banaskantha, which has historically seen low coverage even in its routine immunisation programmes owing to infrastructural, logistical and geographical difficulties, has however seen 1.97 lakh of the district’s population receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. The district ranks third highest in vaccination coverage, trailing behind Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and Surat Municipal Corporation, which have covered 3.66 lakh and 2.33 lakh vaccine doses respectively. Within the district, the highest turnout appears to have been in three major urban health centres in Deesa and Palanpur, with each of the three centres vaccinating nearly 6,000-odd persons till date. 10 percent of the 1.97 lakh who received the first dose, have been administered with the second dose until now.

Banaskantha immunisation officer NK Garg said that while the initial days saw low coverage, there were targeted measures. “In the urban areas, we now inform societies a day in advance that we hope residents from there turn up for the vaccination,” Garg said.

Dang (nearly 15,000), Junagadh Municipal Corporation (nearly 23,500), Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation (nearly 27,300), and Botad (nearly 32,000) are among the districts that have seen the least vaccination coverage. In Dang and Botad, daily Covid-19 case reporting has been in single digits. Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation is however an exception, reporting 20-odd cases at present. Botad collector Vishal Gupta said, “There are certain pockets and particular villages within the district that have been hesitant in taking the vaccine, owing to community traditions or community thinking… We have assigned these pockets to senior officers from various departments and have asked them to convince them,” Gupta said.

In Rajkot city, while nearly 100 cases or more are being reported each day, vaccination has been lower in RMC (1.03 lakh) than that in Rajkot rural (1.10 lakh) as well as significantly lower than Vadodara Municipal Corporation. Rajkot municipal commissioner Udit Agrawal however claimed the vaccination numbers of Rajkot were “comparable with Vadodara and other big cities of the state.”

“That said, we are ramping up the drive and today (Friday), we vaccinated more than 13,000 people as compared to around 4000 the previous day,” Agrawal said.

Of over 25,000 vaccinations recorded Friday by AMC, 10,673 were frontline workers, 1439 health care workers, 5,998 were above 45 years with co-morbid conditions and 6,989 senior citizens. On the cases of AMC’s health workers testing positive despite getting both the doses of vaccine, Dr Solanki said, “This is nothing exceptional. Continuosly working in such an environment with a very high viral load, these cases are not unusual.”

In Vadodara, which saw 174 fresh cases Friday, the administration has been adding beds to the total tally on war footing. On Friday, the total number of admissions stood at 4,160 out of total 6,891 available beds.

Officer on Special Duty Vinod Rao said, “We are developing the Pioneer hospital into a 500 Bed Covid hospital with ventilators and specialists. We also visited the Davalba hospital in Varnama, which will be developed into another 500 bed Covid hospital .”

(With inputs from Ritu Sharma, Gopal Kateshiya and Aditi Raja)

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