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Monday, August 02, 2021

Chandigarh sets target: At least one dose of Covid vaccine to all above 18 years by August 15

In the 18 plus category, 2,19,003 people have yet received the first dose, and now the UT's Health Department is all set to reach out to school and university students with a number of new initiatives.

Written by Parul | Chandigarh |
July 9, 2021 2:47:43 am
The vaccination drive for Health Care Workers started in January 2021, and according to available data, the vaccine efficacy lasts for 9 to 10 months. (Representational image)

THE UT has so far vaccinated 5,86,296 people, (first and second dose), with the achievement in HCWs being 94.36 per cent and in FLWs 95.15 (first dose), the focus now being on the second dose for both the categories.

In the 18 plus category, 2,19,003 people have yet received the first dose, and now the UT’s Health Department is all set to reach out to school and university students with a number of new initiatives, with a target of giving at least the first dose to all in the high-mobility 18+ category by August 15.

According to Dr Amandeep Kang, Director Health Services UT, most staff members of government schools and colleges have been vaccinated to create a safe environment, in case the government decides to open educational institutes soon.

“It is paramount that students above 18 now receive their first dose, as the group has a high mobility. So, we will now be making three new centres, one on PEC campus and two in the Sector 26 and 46 government colleges to reach out to students. This is a priority group, and we will be coordinating with educational institutes so that all new admissions who come to deposit their forms, are asked their vaccination status. Our health teams will be there to motivate them to get a shot, and address any health issue, allergies and other concerns, so that we can provide maximum coverage and also counsel these students. It is important that people come forward to get vaccinated, and not delay their dose just because the positivity rate is low these days. With new variants of the virus emerging, vaccination is the only way we can check the third wave. To check transmission, 70 per cent of the population needs to be vaccinated, and in a city like Chandigarh, it is possible if people support our initiatives. Till now, we have achieved about 66 per cent,” added Dr Kang.

To give the vaccination drive a new impetus, and reach to the doorsteps of people, especially in high density population and crowded colonies, the NGO, United Sikhs will collaborate with the department to pay volunteers who have been part of the Pulse Polio campaign, to visit every home in colonies, starting with Dadumajra this Sunday, and collect data on how many people in each home received the jab yet.

Familiar with the dynamics of the campaign, how to map areas and also how to motivate people to give their children polio drops, according to Dr Kang, these volunteers can play a valuable role in convincing people and cover a large group of vulnerable population, with mobile teams present on site to vaccinate people.

“After seeing the response to the initiative this week, we will then go on to cover more colonies over the weeks and voluntary organisations willing to fund the volunteers can come forward. United Sikhs has also organised facilities of a tent, refreshment etc on the Lake, and we will be organising a drive at 6 am and 5 pm on July 9. It is important for us to know if 100 per cent vaccination will prevent further infection and I think our work with NGOs will yield good results. In Vikas Nagar, Mauli Jagran, where one case of the Delta Plus variant was detected, we vaccinated people on a war footing, and hardly any new cases are being reported from there now, said Dr Kang.
She further said, “We received about 80,000 doses on Thursday and by July 31, we will have about 75,000 more, so there is no shortage of vaccines. All we need now is the support of citizens.”

Booster dose for HCWs

The vaccination drive for Health Care Workers started in January 2021, and according to available data, the vaccine efficacy lasts for 9 to 10 months, which means that the HCWs, who are at high risk, will need a booster dose in September-October. “Till now, we have no information about the booster dose and I think it will be only after October,” said Dr Kang.

Prof Rakesh Kochhar, Department of Gastroenterology, PGIMER, says till now, there are only stray reports on the efficacy of the vaccines on the variants. Also, there is not substantial data on the levels of the antibodies after two doses, and how long these last. “A booster dose will be, of course, required. The flu vaccine in the USA is tweaked according to the emerging new variants and eventually this will have to be done for the Covid vaccines too, though right now it is too premature for that. The Delta Plus variant, which is more infective is now being reported in several states and also in USA, Europe, the UK. The need of the hour in India is to do genomic sequencing to check for vaccine efficacy. Right now, the priority is to vaccinate a large population,” added Dr Kochhar.

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