April 1, 2021 12:26:04 am
EVERYONE AGED above 45 will now be eligible for Covid-19 vaccination across over 3,000 vaccination centres in the state, starting Thursday. With the relaxation in age criteria state Health Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas said daily vaccination numbers, which stood at 2.7 lakh at present, will reach 4 lakh per day.
On Wednesday, Maharashtra reported 227 deaths due to Covid-19, the highest number of deaths this year. The state’s death toll has touched 54,649. The daily toll last crossed 200 towards the end of October 2020, shortly after the state reached its peak in September. There were 39,544 fresh cases added to the total number of positive cases on the day, taking active cases to 3.56 lakh.
Vyas, however, said it would be difficult to comply with a central government directive asking states to vaccinate all aged above 45 in the next two weeks in districts witnessing a second wave.
Vyas said they had received no official communication regarding the same. “It is neither possible nor do we have so many vaccine doses to vaccinate all above 45 years in two weeks,” he said.
An estimated 30 per cent population is above 45 years in Maharashtra, which would mean vaccinating over 3 crore people in a fortnight. The state has vaccinated 60 lakh people to date, since January 16 when the vaccination drive began.
Health ministry data shows over 90 per cent Covid deaths in the last month were of people aged above 45. The state has recorded 6.11 lakh new Covid-19 cases and 2,238 deaths this month, accounting for maximum burden among all states in India.
The health department has instructed all districts to focus on urban vaccination rather than rural, where turnout still remains low and more resources are required to vaccinate the population. Urban centres like Nagpur, Pune, Thane and Mumbai account for 60 per cent of the state’s active caseload. Vyas said they had left the districts to schedule their own centres and vaccination programme.
In some districts, special efforts are being made, such as transport arrangement and awareness drives. In Nanded last week, a government school was attached with a vaccination centre to immunise villagers.
Shortage of vaccines is also an issue. Thane, last week, exhausted its vaccine stock forcing a stock diversion from Navi Mumbai.
The daily number of vaccinations have not touched 3 lakh per day, as expected by officials. The state vaccinated 2.10 lakh people on Tuesday, a dip from last week when over 2.50 lakh were vaccinated. Officials attributed the dip to the weekend followed by Holi celebrations. Of 2.10 lakh vaccinated, 1.84 lakh received Covishield and 26,168 Covaxin.
People aged above 60 and those with co-morbidities have started getting their second dose. Data from Tuesday shows that 1,482 people aged over 60 and 331 aged above 45, with some co-morbidity, have received their second dose. People can opt for a second dose six to eight weeks after the first.
Officials said they planned to touch 3.5 lakh immunisations per day, starting this week, and slowly scale it up to 4 lakh doses once people in the co-morbid group and those aged above 60 came for a second dose.
In Mumbai, vaccinations have reduced over the past three days. The city vaccinated 26,874 people on Tuesday, a dip from over 40,000 vaccinations per day until last week.
“We have a capacity of 27,000 vaccinations per day, but our centres are going beyond 40,000,” said Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner. Kakani said they had permitted private hospitals to vaccinate for 24 hours if they wanted.
“But none have shown interest in running their centre all night. We have allowed 10 government centres to operate in two shifts to increase capacity,” he said.
In Mumbai, 11.24 lakh people have so far been vaccinated, which includes 5.38 lakh people aged above 60 and 97,812 people aged from 45 to 59 with co-morbidities.
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