Bridge the vaccine gender gap in Tamil Nadu  

However, one worrying data point is the gender gap in the drive, as 3% fewer women as compared to men have taken the jabs in Tamil Nadu so far.

Published: 09th July 2021 07:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th July 2021 07:11 AM   |  A+A-

Pregnant women getting vaccinated at Egmore Children’s Hospital in Chennai on Monday | R Satish Babu

Long, snaking queues at dawn these days outside Covid mass vaccination centres in Tamil Nadu to collect tokens validate the contention of health minister M Subramanian that the state’s sluggish inoculation rate has now perked up. As of now, just over 1.72 crore people have been inoculated in a state with an estimated 5.8 crore beneficiaries above the age of 18. Of them, 29 lakh have been fully vaccinated while 1.43 crore have taken their first dose. Recent reports of a village in a backward district where all eligible 18-plus beneficiaries not only took their jabs but also honoured the visiting vaccination team indicate the level of awareness and the lack of vaccine hesitancy. One hopes the message will percolate across rural TN and make people receptive to the vaccine, which alone can protect them from the next Covid wave. Since the state started off rather slowly, catching up does take time and needs a steady supply of vaccine doses. But Tamil Nadu has exhausted its stock of vaccines, one reason why MaSu, as the minister is better known, had lined up a meeting with Dr Harsh Vardhan in Delhi for Friday. Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dropped Vardhan and made Mansukh Mandaviya the new health minister, the meeting could be rescheduled.

An interesting data MaSu recently shared was that Tamil Nadu can no longer be blamed for wasting vaccines; instead, it is actually saving doses. For, vaccinators are now extracting up to 12 doses from a vial instead of just 10. They have thus added 1.4 lakh doses to the basket so far, he claimed. Compare that with the wasting of 3.5-4 lakh doses during his predecessor’s regime, and the difference is stark. If that saving is indeed possible—a few private hospitals elsewhere in the country have shown it is doable—MaSu could share the TN experience with Mandaviya to try it out across India.

However, one worrying data point is the gender gap in the drive, as 3% fewer women as compared to men have taken the jabs in Tamil Nadu so far. Though the average national gender gap is 4%, TN could take the initiative to bridge it quickly and set another progressive model worthy of replication.


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