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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Vaccine coverage District officials in Gujarat cite ‘differences’ in estimated target population

According to data provided by the state health department, some other laggard districts include those such as Mehsana, Anand, Chhota Udepur and Amreli when it comes to first dose coverage, ranging between 70 to 79 per cent coverage of estimated population, as per state's data.

Written by Sohini Ghosh | Ahmedabad |
October 22, 2021 1:08:11 am
As India crossed the 100-crore mark of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered on Thursday, Gujarat's share was 6.80 crore doses including 2.37 crore second doses. (Representative)

Even as 47 per cent of the vaccine-eligible population in Gujarat has been fully inoculated against Covid-19 and nearly 90 per cent has been covered with the first dose, some districts authorities said that the estimated target population of the state government is different from that of theirs, resulting in relatively low vaccination coverage being reported from these districts, by the state.

Three such districts are Gandhinagar, Botad and Surendanagar where nearly all of the villages are claimed to have been covered with the first dose of the vaccine and yet overall first dose coverage remains low compared to other districts, figuring in the bottom five of the total 33 districts and eight municipal corporations.

Districts like Dang, despite having the lowest estimated vaccine-eligible population in the state (1.91 lakh), according to the state’s data, is among the districts with the lowest coverage when it comes to the first dose (78.6 per cent), and has only managed to cover all the population with the first dose in 65 of the total 311 villages.

While a state health officer explained that the low percentage coverage of first dose in the overall district is owing to low coverage in the municipality areas even though nearly all villages in such districts have been covered, a district official had a different take.

In the case of Gandhinagar, as District Collector Kuldeep Arya explained, “The data of the estimated population that the health department has is as of January 15 this year based on electoral rolls (10.42 lakh). However, we did a house-to-house survey subsequently, where we saw factors of in-migration and out-migration. Factoring these in, our estimated population comes to around 8.47 lakh, in which we have covered 95 per cent of the population with the first dose. We have also requested the state government to modify the estimated population target.”

According to data provided by the state health department, some other laggard districts include those such as Mehsana, Anand, Chhota Udepur and Amreli when it comes to first dose coverage, ranging between 70 to 79 per cent coverage of estimated population, as per state’s data.

However, according to Mehsana District Collector Udit Agrawal and chief district health officer Vishnu Patel, the targeted estimated population is “not correct” and the district has already covered 90 per cent of its population with the first dose.

As Patel explains, “We did a house-to-house survey and as of last week, the estimated population in the district is 15.22 lakh (as against 17.68 lakh in the state health department database). The same has also been conveyed to the state health department and revising the targeted estimated population is under discussion. This is a function of migration, where we see more people migrating out of Mehsana.”

Apart from migration being a factor of revised estimated population, as one district official added, there is also the factor of deaths. “For instance, Gandhinagar recorded 23,000 deaths — Covid-19 and otherwise — since the last electoral roll was published,” said a Gandhinagar district official.

The Dang district collector and district development officer could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, Tapi, another tribal district in the state, is the first among tribal districts to achieve 100 per cent first dose coverage almost a week ago, according to district collector Harjibhai Vadhvaniya. As per state data, in fact an additional 7,200 persons have taken the first dose in the district against the estimated population.

This, Vadhvaniya attributes to cross-border movement. “Tapi is a border district adjoining Maharashtra, from where we would see people coming in for the dose. We also saw people from Tapi adjoining talukas of Surat travelling to Tapi to take the first dose to skip the queue in their jurisdiction in the initial days,” said Vadhvaniya.

With 45 lakh doses in stock at present, state immunisation officer Nayan Jani says this is a “glut” for the state, given that the state at present is administering three lakh-odd doses a day, with more second doses being administered each day than first doses. Jani added that given that nearly 90 per cent of the first dose has been covered among the vaccine-eligible population in the state, the last-mile is going to be a slow burn.

“This is a usual pattern. We are not going to see a massive number of doses administered (like we did on September 17 when more than 19 lakh doses were administered in a single day as part of a mega vaccination drive in the state). This is because the first dose has been covered in 90 per cent of the population and the major dose takers now will be those eligible for the second dose which will depend on the interval from the person’s first dose date and on the vaccine they took.”

Meanwhile, as India crossed the 100-crore mark of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered on Thursday, Gujarat’s share was 6.80 crore doses including 2.37 crore second doses. The achievement was made overcoming vaccine hesitancy through sops offered by the government , intensive campaigns, or the process made easier with vaccine at the doorstep like the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) did.

Gujarat Health Minister Rushikesh Patel in a press briefing on Thursday said that three of the eight municipal corporation areas — Gandhinagar municipal corporation (GMC), Surat municipal corporation (SMC) and Junagadh municipal corporation (JuMC) — and four of the 33 districts — Ahmedabad, Tapi, Junagadh and Mahisagar — have covered 100 percent or more of the estimated population in these jurisdictions with the first dose. Hundred percent of the vaccine-eligible population of 15,436 villages in the state (of the total 18,215 villages), have been covered with the first dose as well.

Meanwhile, celebrating the milestone of crossing 100 crore vaccine doses in the country, Indigo Seaways Pvt Ltd under its RoPax ferry brand “DG Sea Connect” announced that it will provide 100 free motorbike bookings on RoPax ferry between November 1 and 4, from Bhavnagar to Hazira in South Gujarat.

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