The Government’s 75-day drive to provide free precaution doses of Covid-19 vaccines ended on Friday with 15.92 crore such doses administered during the period.
A commemoration of India’s 75 years of Independence, the drive started mid-July. Before it began, only 8 per cent of adults in the country had received the third vaccine dose. At the end of the drive, that number stands at 27 per cent. Three-fourths of India’s adult population is yet to receive the third dose.
During the 75-day period, more than 13.01 lakh vaccination camps organised in the country, including 4,451 organised on the routes of religious yatras, according to data provided by the Health Ministry. Most of the camps — 11.03 lakh — were organised at private and government workplaces.
Ever since India started administering the third dose in January this year, it has remained free for those above 60 years of age. It was also available for free to all healthcare and frontline workers. From April, the government has allowed the third dose to be administered to those in the 18-59 age group at private vaccination centres upon payment.
Experts say that the reduced fear of a Covid-19 infection, as well as instances of infection — even if mostly mild — despite vaccination have led to low demand for the third vaccine dose. Also lowering demand is the fact that a precaution dose certificate is not mandatory for travel or entry into many places that has required double-vaccination proof.
Last week, The Indian Express reported that the coverage of the third dose across states was varied. It ranges from 92.1 per cent coverage in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to 6.11 per cent in Meghalaya.
With almost the entire population of the country having received the first dose of the vaccine, the coverage of precaution doses in the states has been calculated considering the number of first dose given to adults to be the total eligible adult population.
In Delhi, the only state to provide free precaution dose to all adults even before the Centre’s 75-day drive, the precaution dose coverage stood at 19.6 per cent — behind bigger states such as Odisha (38 per cent), Gujarat (37.7 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (28 per cent), Bihar (23.4 per cent), West Bengal (22.98 per cent), and Madhya Pradesh (24.4 per cent).
The coverage of precaution doses in states like Maharashtra and Kerala, which have been dealing with a consistently high number of Covid-19 cases throughout the pandemic, was among the lowest at 10.7 per cent and 11.09 per cent, respectively.