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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Three out of five shots in record day one surge given in rural areas

A total 56.09 lakh doses of vaccines were given to recipients in rural India, close to double the 31.99 lakh shots that were administered in urban centres, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi |
Updated: June 23, 2021 6:58:07 am
A woman arrives with her child to join the queue at a vaccination centre in Guwahati Tuesday. (PTI)

Sixty-four per cent of India’s record-breaking vaccination on Monday took place in rural areas, the Centre said on Tuesday. Updated data from the Union Health Ministry showed 88.09 lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccines were administered across the country as the government’s new vaccine procurement policy went into effect.

A total 56.09 lakh doses of vaccines were given to recipients in rural India, close to double the 31.99 lakh shots that were administered in urban centres, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.

Dr V K Paul, chairman of India’s Covid-19 task force, said: “The important aspect is that rural coverage has been remarkably emphasised; rural coverage is intense, and in good proportion. If the division of rural and urban in our country is around 70:30, then yesterday’s coverage was close to this. It shows that it is possible to cover the rural far-flung areas (in vaccination).”

This, in fact, has been the trend over the past several weeks. “In the last few days, data has emerged that around 71 per cent of vaccination centres are in rural India, and consistently, in the last few weeks, more than 50 per cent vaccinations have taken place in rural India,” Dr Paul said.

There was, however, a slight male skew in the vaccination numbers, Dr Paul said.

“Forty-six per cent of those who received the vaccine yesterday were women. The slight imbalance has to be corrected. Women’s and men’s proportions should be equal. We have to make the vaccination process easy for women, and bring more women forward for vaccination,” he said.

Under its new vaccination policy, the central government is procuring 75 per cent of vaccine stocks from the open market and distributing it to states to vaccinate every citizen aged 18 years and older for free in government vaccination centres. The remaining 25 per cent has been left for private hospitals and healthcare facilities who can levy a service charge of Rs 150 over and above the cost of the vaccine.

On Tuesday, day 2 of the new phase of the vaccination drive, 52.33 lakh doses were given, preliminary data showed. The lower number compared to Monday’s was in line with expectations — officials monitoring the process had told The Indian Express on Monday that they believed vaccination numbers would stabilise around 45 lakh per day.

On Tuesday, Uttar Pradesh administered 7.82 lakh doses, early data showed, followed by Maharashtra (5.55 lakh), Gujarat (4.25 lakh), Karnataka (3.89 lakh), and Rajasthan (3.73 lakh).

On Monday, the top five states in vaccination numbers were Madhya Pradesh (17.14 lakh), Karnataka (11.37 lakh), Uttar Pradesh (7.46 lakh), Bihar (5.75 lakh), and Haryana (5.15 lakh), according to updated data released by the government on Tuesday.

Health Secretary Bhushan said on Tuesday that the surge in vaccination numbers on Monday was the result of advance planning by both the states and the Centre.

“What happened yesterday was not sudden. It was a result of co-ordinated planning in which the state government and the union government collaborated and worked very hard,” he said.

“In this context, it is important to understand that from June 1 to June 21, the average per-day vaccination had been 34.62 lakh. So a jump from 34 lakh to 88 lakh [on Monday], when the vaccines are available and when capacity is available, is possible. States have the capacity to deliver a significant number of doses as long as vaccine availability and advance information is available,” Bhushan said.

The 15 days’ advance visibility that has been given to states would likely result in similar vaccination numbers over the next few days, he said.

“States have built capacity over the decades during the universal immunisation programme. Yesterday, states showed their capacity, and the Centre helped by providing vaccine doses at the right time; we also gave them advance visibility of the doses that they would receive in the next 15 days.

“Since the states had advance information on the quantum of doses which were to come, and the dates when the doses were supposed to come, the states were in a position to plan in an effective manner,” Bhushan said.

“The states could in turn intimate the districts and vaccination centres about the quantum of vaccines. Due to this, coverage was higher. Moving forward, as the volumes of vaccines increase, the capacity to vaccinate will also increase,” he said.

As many as 92.20 per cent of the centres where vaccines were given on Monday, were government centres, Bhushan said. Dr Paul too, attributed Monday’s success to the experience of the national immunisation programme, and to the role of the government facilities.

“The…government vaccination centres have played a big role. It is an example of public health’s strength, resilience, and reach. The experience from the universal immunisation programme on SOPs, micro planning, and creation of teams is benefitting us; to achieve a reach of this scale, previous experience is critical,” Dr Paul said.

The participation by private centres needs to be increased though, he said. “Eighty-eight lakh doses administered yesterday are well beyond expectation for most of us… It shows the capacity of the country. The public sector has played a major role. We also hope that when the private sector joins the drive in full capacity, then overall capacity (to vaccinate) will increase further,” Dr Paul said.


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