January 28, 2022 2:12:27 am
Despite a sharp surge in Covid cases in the third wave, nearly 1.15 crore people or 16 per cent of those eligible for their second vaccine dose till January 26, have missed their scheduled second jab in Maharashtra.
The district-wise call centres established last December under the programme ‘Dastak on phones’ are struggling to convince the defaulters, said a source in the government.
Till December 4, 2021, nearly 98 lakh people who had taken the first dose, delayed their second dose. However, over the last two months, the number of defaulters increased to 1.15 crore.
Of those, while 97.58 lakh took Covishield as their first dose, the remaining 17.34 lakh took Covaxin. As of January 26, 6.1 crore people have taken their second dose across Maharashtra.
As per the data analysed by The Indian Express, Pune leads among the districts with 9.72 lakh defaulters who have not taken the second dose of Covishield. This is followed by Nashik, where 7.28 lakh people missed their second dose of Covishield, followed by Thane with 6.72 lakh defaulters. Mumbai occupied the fourth spot, with 5.90 lakh defaulters, followed by Nagpur with 5.32 lakh defaulters.
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When it comes to the second dose of Covaxin, Buldhana has the highest number of defaulters (1.49 lakh), followed by Amravati (89,402), Washim (88,156), Yavatmal (86,805) and Gondia (83,253).
For the counselling of these defaulters, Additional Chief Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas, last December, had ordered setting up of call centres in each district under ‘Dastak on phones’ programme. Under this, officials are trying to persuade the defaulters to get fully vaccinated.
But majority of the defaulters make false promises of getting the second jabs, said officials. “Over 90 per cent of the defaulters claim they would go for the second vaccine but never show up. As it is a voluntary act, we can’t force them,” said Dr Sachin Desai, the state immunization officer.
The Centre, in a press briefing on Thursday, said 33 districts in Maharashtra are recording a seven-day positivity rate above 10 per cent. The state’s seven-day positivity rate stands at 23.9 per cent, which has become a concern for the health officials.
With the fear of the new Omicron variant, which is more transmissible due to multiple mutations, officials presumed there would be less vaccine hesitancy. But vaccinators are still struggling to convince people to get fully immunised, especially in rural parts of Maharashtra.
“Just to convince residents to get the second jab, we have made vaccine certificates compulsory for travel and to procure benefits of ration cards But still vaccine hesitancy is predominant in the rural areas,” said Dr Mahendra Chavan, District Health Officer of Nandurbar, which is at the bottom of the list of lowest vaccine coverage.
In Maharashtra, while 90.65 per cent of the eligible population have been vaccinated with the first dose, 65.96 per cent have been fully vaccinated. This is less than the nation’s average of 95 per cent for first dose coverage and 74 per cent for second dose coverage.
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