CHENNAI: While COVID-19 vaccination coverage among antenatal (pregnant) mothers in Tamil Nadu has increased from 37 per cent on August 20 to 56 per cent on August 30, concerns remain as the vaccination coverage in Chennai still is much lower than the State's average.
According to the latest data shared by the Directorate of Public Health, out of 6,74,163 antenatal (AN) mothers in the State, 3,76,074 have been vaccinated (at least one dose) against COVID-19.
While about 10 health unit districts (HUD) have recorded 70 per cent or higher coverage, only 23 per cent of AN mothers have been vaccinated in Chennai. Out of 58,319 eligible pregnant mothers in the city, only 13,772 have taken the jab.
The State has 46 HUDs and this is different from revenue districts, and used for the demarcation of boundaries for health purposes. Aranthangi, Karur, Kanyakumari, Palani, Perambalur, Sivakasi, and Virudhunagar are among the districts with more than 70 per cent coverage.
Corporation officials say creating awareness among AN mothers is a challenge at Public Health Centres as they still have strong hesitancy. "The number one reason we have heard is that the mothers want to take vaccines after childbirth," said a health official. However, tertiary hospitals like the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology have recorded close to 100 per cent coverage.
Health Secretary Dr J Radhakrishnan said instructions have been given to all healthcare workers at PHCs to create awareness among mothers. "The State overall is faring better than others in the country. More mothers are coming forward in other districts and it would improve in the city too," he told The New Indian Express.
Virologist Dr Jacob John said: "COVID vaccination is not tetanus vaccination. This vaccination can only be recommended to mothers and not forced. So they must understand the importance and take it at the earliest."
Former Director of Public Health Dr K Kolandasamy said that the overall numbers in Tamil Nadu is a welcome sign. "We need to achieve 100% coverage since AN mothers are one of the most vulnerable. Awareness can be spread through camps," he said.