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Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Bengaluru: Vaccination for 18-44 age group yet to begin at govt-run centres barring priority groups

Getting vaccinated is still far from reality for a huge share of the young adult population in Bengaluru and across Karnataka even as a month passed since the Centre allowed walk-in registration for vaccination for the 18-44 age group at government-run centres.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru |
Updated: July 2, 2021 12:35:45 pm
At a vaccination centre in Bengaluru. (Reuters)

Srimathi Perumal (30), a resident of Mahadevapura in Bengaluru, has been running pillar to post for nearly a month to get her first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. From registering on the CoWIN portal and keeping a frequent tab on the platform to find a slot to visiting nearby public healthcare centres and hospitals in her locality, she is doing everything. But she has been unsuccessful in getting the jab.

“I was waiting for a long time for vaccination to begin for the 18-44 age group to which I belong. With ministers announcing the launch of vaccination for this age group, suspending it temporarily, and then supposedly resuming it, I have been trying all means to get a slot but in vain,” she said.

However, Nirmal S (24), a freelance digital marketing professional was lucky to get a slot in a private hospital in Bannerghatta Road through a doctor contact he had. “I had to travel over 20 kilometres to get my jab but I had turned too desperate that I was ready to go even to Belagavi to find one. While a few of my friends were lucky enough to be part of vaccination drives held at their workplaces and in their gated societies, I still wonder when people working in individual capacities in my age group would be able to find a slot,” he said.

Getting vaccinated is still far from reality for a huge share of the young adult population in Bengaluru and across Karnataka even as a month passed since the Centre allowed walk-in registration for vaccination for the 18-44 age group at government-run centres.

BBMP Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta told The Indian Express that vaccination was yet to be made open on the part of the government to all aged 18-44 barring priority groups.

He explained that priority was still given to people aged 45 and above and only for people falling into groups identified by the government in the age group 18-44. “The availability of doses is an issue as the demand has shot up now. With college students being the latest addition to such groups, we are seeing an overall coverage between 80,000 and 90,000 per day (at government-run and private facilities),” Gupta said.

Priority groups identified by the government include differently-abled and their caretakers, transport department staff, crematorium staff, postal department staff, media personnel and street vendors etc.

However, Gupta admitted that an ideal daily target would be around 1 lakh doses being administered using government supplies exclusively. “However, with the available resources at present, we are able to achieve a coverage only between 40,000 to 50,000 daily these days. We are told that the availability will improve this month as more doses are expected to be allocated not just for Bengaluru, but for the state on the whole,” he added.

At the same time, a senior official from the Department of Health said, “We have been giving utmost preference for those aged 45 and above in order to complete both doses as their age factor makes them most vulnerable now, by default. However, several drives in place for different groups are parallelly held for people aged 18 to 44 as well, as the coverage for this age group is also looked into, if not at full fledge.”

The Karnataka government had initially announced that vaccination will be provided to citizens aged 18-44 starting May 10. However, a shortage of doses available in the state had forced the government to temporarily suspend the same on May 14.

Further, claiming that the state was allocated more doses of the vaccines a week later, Karnataka said the process would resume from May 22. However, yet another clarification came that vaccination at government-run centres would be offered only to frontline workers and those falling in priority groups. However, 40 days later, the situation is yet to improve, courtesy of a shortage of doses.

The limited availability of stocks has contributed towards a decline in coverage barring the International Day of Yoga on June 21 when the state recorded a single-day coverage of administering over 10 lakh doses.

The numbers have been dropping ever since to 1,01,396 reported till 3.30 pm from across the state on Thursday.

Over 2.26 lakh students inoculated till June 30

Statistics issued by the Department of Higher Education said over 2.26 lakh students in the state got inoculated between June 27 and 30, following the government’s decision to add them to the priority list to facilitate the resumption of offline classes in colleges.

While teachers and other staff members were also included in the group, as many as 18,956 and 12,646 of them respectively have been inoculated. The maximum number of students have been vaccinated in Dakshina Kannada (22,678) district while most teachers got the jab in Gadag (2111) in the last four days. Among vaccination coverage for non-teaching staff, Belagavi topped the list (1619).

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