May 15, 2021 10:15:39 am
A 31-year-old art teacher, Rishi Chandel, joined the long queue of youngsters awaiting their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine at GMSH-16, at 9 am sharp— as the UT Administration launched its next phase of vaccination for 18 plus, in Chandigarh, on Friday.
For Chandel, who lives alone here, the vaccine, he says, is the first step towards leading a ‘safer’ life, as the anxiety of getting the Covid-19 infection has been a probable reality. “I was here two hours earlier than my slot, as I wasn’t sure if I will get the vaccine, as there is so much that we read on the shortage of vaccine across the country, and how so many people are turned away, as there are not enough doses at the centres. I didn’t want to take a chance,” shares Chandel.
The vaccination drive took place at seven centres in the UT, with 1,000 people given slots, on the basis of online booking, with no on-spot vaccination available for this phase. A total of 929 people received the jab on Friday.
“Many came much earlier than their time slot, as they were apprehensive about vaccine shortage. I want to clarify that all those who have booked their slots, will get the vaccine, as we have worked out the division of doses for this category, no one will be turned away. It is why we have started the drive for this age group in a phased manner. We have ordered one lakh more doses, as we receive it, we will open more slots and centres. When people book slots and do not come, as 71 did not turn up, we have to make sure that there is coordination among centres so no vaccine is wasted,” explains Dr Amandeep Kang, Director Health Services.
On the higher demand of vaccine in comparison with supply, as opposed to the vaccine hesitancy witnessed earlier, Dr Kang says that there are about 3.5 lakh people in the age group of 18 to 44, as per the census, and there will be a need to step up vaccine supply to inoculate more people at a faster pace. She hopes that with the launch of Sputnik in India, which will cost about Rs 950 a dose, the private sector will be able to buy the vaccine by the end of the month, and with an almost 90 per cent efficacy, many may opt for it. Also, with the government extending the gap between both doses of Covishield to 12-16 weeks, more vaccine will be available for the 18 plus category.
While several are able to access the portal and book slots, many do not have access to internet facilities, but need to be reached out to, urgently, to be vaccinated, to check the transmission of infection. Dr Kang says, they hope in a week’s time the Centre will give the UT a go-ahead to organise vaccination camps in slums, colonies and densely populated areas, and vaccinate people who do not have phones or a registered number.
Dr VK Nagpal, Medical Superintendent, GMSH 16 and Joint Director, Health, says, “With a large number of HCWs and FLWs already having received the second dose, we need 5-6 lakh vaccines to vaccinate about 7 lakh people in about 4-5 months. We will also get more vaccines from abroad, and the gap between the vaccines will also help in taking care of any shortage that we may face. Also, the question is, when the curve begins to flatten, will the people be as eager to get vaccinated,” adds Dr Nagpal.
‘Increase in dose interval of covishield scientific’
Dr Vikas Bhutani, Director Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Mohali says as per the study published in The Lancet, on March 4, which is based on the analysis of four randomised trials conducted in UK, Brazil and South Africa, on single-dose administration and the influence of timing of second dose on immunogenicity and efficacy of Covishield vaccine, it has been concluded that a single dose of had an efficacy of 76% against symptomatic Covid-19 in the first 90 days after vaccination. A second dose induced increased neutralising antibody levels which is necessary for long-lasting protection and vaccine efficacy after the second dose was found to be higher in those with a longer prime-boost interval, reaching 81·3% in those with a interval of 12 weeks or more versus 55·1% in those with an interval of less than 6 weeks. “On the basis of scientific evidence, I agree with the decision to increase the interval between two doses of Covishield to 12-16 weeks,” he said.
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