BENGALURU: Although Karnataka administered over 31 lakh doses, topping the list of states during the ‘Lasika Mela’ held across the country on Friday, it stands at sixth position overall in terms of vaccination. Experts pointed out that there is a need to focus on covering low-income groups that are being missed out, to increase vaccination sites and have free camps in targeted areas.
According to data on the CoWin portal, Karnataka has vaccinated 5,18,76,105 people so far, ever since the nationwide inoculation drive was launched on January 19. Uttar Pradesh tops the chart with 9,41,15,818 vaccination doses being administered followed by Maharashtra at 7,32,57,136, Madhya Pradesh with 5,71,71,499 doses, Gujarat (5,64,50,129) and Rajasthan (5,34,28,799).
In the 60-plus age group, over 97,10,484 people have been vaccinated in the state while in the 45-59 age group, 1,48,96,351 people have been inoculated. In the 18-44 group, 2,72,69,270 people have received vaccine doses. When the vaccination drive began, Karnataka was in number one position, covering a major section of healthcare workers. However, with more groups added, coupled with hesitancy among people and short supply of vaccines, the numbers dropped.
The state now aims to complete vaccination of the entire population in the next three-and-half months. Asked how the state plans to increase vaccination coverage, Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said that other states have bigger population and it cannot be compared. “In terms of percentage of the population vaccinated, Karnataka already stands third after Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. With Friday’s mega vaccination drive, Karnataka has vaccinated 77% of its adult population with at least one dose. Comparison based on absolute numbers is not correct because there are states with much larger population than Karnataka.” However, he pointed out that some regions need to buck up.
“The issue is only with a few districts in Kalyana Karnataka region. We are trying to asses the reasons for vaccine hesitancy in the region. We are hopeful that these districts will also catch up soon. Rural districts have done exceedingly well. With about 60% rural population, the state can’t achieve 77% vaccination without rural areas doing well,” added Dr Sudhakar. A public health expert pointed out that the need of the hour is to reach out to lower-income groups.
“While the urban areas are being covered and many individuals are coming forward for vaccination, focus should be on slums, labourers, migrants and others. More camps at construction sites or other areas can help in targeting more numbers,” he said. In Karnataka, the highest coverage has been in the BBMP limits, with 1,12,18,222 doses administered, followed by Belagavi (35,36,503) and Mysuru (26,42,290). Districts like Gadag, Yagir and Kodagu have the least number of vaccinations done.
BBMP Health Commissioner Randeep D pointed out that they now plan to reach out door to door or lane to lane to have the maximum population covered. “More camps will be set up in market places and slums. We aim to vaccinate 75,000 people each day. Right now, supply is good and we need to make use of it,” he said.