BENGALURU : The clock is ticking away for Karnataka on the vaccine front even as the anticipated third wave looms large. Over 82 per cent of those eligible for Covid vaccinations are yet to be inoculated against the dreaded disease, while 66.4 lakh beneficiaries are waiting for their second dose.
In absolute numbers, those waiting to be vaccinated account for about 4.22 crore across the state among the vaccine-eligible population of about 5.11 crore people (above 18 years of age). The numbers show a grim picture. The Health Department may find it extremely difficult to speed up the vaccination even as it grapples with shortages.
From January 16 (when the vaccination programme was launched) till May 16, up to 1,11,88,143 people have been vaccinated. This includes those who have taken the first dose and those completing both doses.
As per data accessed by The New Indian Express, the state’s total target was to vaccinate 8.6 lakh Health Care Workers with both doses, but so far only 4,60,437 have completed both vaccines. At least 2.4 lakh health care workers are waiting for the second dose, while 1.6 lakh for their first dose. To vaccinate this segment, the government requires 5.6 lakh doses.
‘Frontline workers require 5.4 lakh vaccines in total’
MEANWHILE, among frontline workers (FLWs), of the total six lakh target, 1.2 lakh are still due for their first dose and nearly 3 lakh for their second shot. A total of 5.4 lakh vaccines are needed for this group. The Health Department officials, however, confirmed that the state has only 1.5 lakh doses of Covaxin and 6.5 lakh of Covishield. The Centre’s decision to extend the interval between two doses of Covishield (which is the maximum number of vaccines administered in the State) from the existing sixeight weeks to 12-16 weeks will give a breather to 1.68 lakh people.
However, public health experts say the State still needs to vaccinate 4.40 lakh people waiting for the second dose of Covaxin and it cannot wait as they have already completed four weeks. The State Government lacked micro-planning when Covid vaccination drive first began, but at least now, this needs to be set in place, say experts.
According to Dr Giridhara R Babu, epidemiologist, Public Health Institute, and member of state Covid Technical Advisory Committee, “The State Government needs to micro-plan. There is no other option. Procurement and supply of vaccines will surely happen. But if we don’t have proper micro-level planning, we’ll still end up not vaccinating even 50 per cent of our population with both doses.
Those who are due for the second dose will also keep waiting over many more months.” Dr Manjunath CN of Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases says, “We will soon see the third wave. The idea was to vaccinate the entire population before that, which is by August or at least before October.
However, to vaccinate 4.22 crore people with the first dose and 66.4 lakh with the second dose, we require 9.12 crore vaccines.” He points out that if the entire vaccination- eligible population is to be covered, 4 to 4.5 lakh vaccinations need to be carried out per day.