BENGALURU, MYSURU: While the vaccination drive should have picked up pace with the surge in Covid cases and deaths, the State Government is not close to its targets as yet. None of the four segments categorised for vaccine coverage has reached 30 per cent of respective populations.Starting with healthcare workers on January 16, of the estimated 16 lakh, only 4.77 lakh (4,77,210) have completed vaccinations (both doses), achieving only 29.82 per cent of the target with 11,22,790 remaining. This is the segment that has seen the highest coverage in the State with the remaining categories recording far lower percentages.
A mere 2,20,415 (just 1.10 per cent) of the two crore frontline workers across Karnataka have received both doses, leaving 1.97 crore (1,97,79,585) yet to complete the dosage; only 13.28 per cent (22,05,779) have been vaccinated among the 1.66 crore-strong segment of 45-plus age category, leaving 1.43 crore (1,43,94,230) yet to complete the vaccination.
Only 0.01 per cent (4,293) have completed their dosage in the 3.26 crore 18-44 age-group segment — the largest in the State — with 3,25,95,707 (3.25 crore) still waiting for the vaccination.Dr Giridhar Babu, epidemiologist at the Indian Institute of Public Health, and member of the State’s Covid Technical Advisory Committee, said, “Meticulous microplanning and energetic mobilisation campaign are necessary to improve the coverage. Lessons from the other immunisation programmes will be helpful in planning. Also, it is important to address social mobilisation in population groups which have concerns about vaccines.” So far, Karnataka has received 1,55,09,430 doses of vaccines, including 1,36,53,840 doses of Covishield and 18,55,590 doses of Covaxin. Of these, 1,36,12,490 were supplied from the Centre and 18,96,940 were procured by the State Government.
Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said now that the decentralised policy is rolled back and the Centre will procure 75 per cent of vaccine production, the State cannot procure vaccines. “The biggest challenge is the production capacity. It has now been scaled up significantly. With supplies streamlined and states already administering about 2-3 lakh doses per day, we will scale up the vaccination drive with better speed and coverage. I am hopeful that we will be able to vaccinate every eligible citizen by the year-end,” he said.
Recently, villagers of Shivapura in Gundlupet taluk threatened to commit suicide if health workers insisted that they take the jab. In another incident in the same taluk, a man in an inebriated state came out of his house with a sickle when health staff asked him to take the vaccine. These are just a few examples of vaccine hesitancy in rural areas. Mysuru is among the districts leading the vaccination drive in the State. But hesitancy still prevails in certain pockets, especially tribal areas, officials said. What remains a concern is the low coverage in Chamarajanagar, which has recorded only 2,28,312 inoculations so far. Authorities blame it on the present restrictions on categories.
Trials for paediatric vaccine
Currently, two paediatric vaccine trials are going on in Karnataka. Jeevan Rekha Hospital in Belagavi has conducted the first phase of clinical trials on 20 children in the 12-18 age group with ZyCov-D vaccine. They started the trials in February this year. The children were administered three doses of ZyCov-D vaccine.Another set of trials is in Mysuru at Cheluvamba Hospital on children in the age group of 2-18 years with Covaxin. The hospital is waiting for the SOP to finalise the number of children to be included in the trial.