KOCHI: Delays, restrictions imposed by the government and recent doubts raised about the efficacy of the vaccines have become discouraging factors for at least some people, causing them to refrain from taking the jab. Despite all criticism, severity of the Covid-19 infection among those who have taken at least the first jab is seen to be less, compared to those who have not taken any vaccination so far. Therefore, experts urge people to get vaccinated keeping apprehensions aside and ask the government to speed up vaccination by easing the restrictions.
“The decisions taken by the Centre are based on results of studies. Since last year, various studies have been carried out here as well as globally to understand the pattern of the virus. The mutated strain of the virus is more severe and there is a chance that all present vaccines may become outdated against the virus later on. The only way to tackle the situation is by vaccinating as many people as possible at the earliest to make at least 50-60% of the population achieve herd immunity. Otherwise, the entire system will collapse, if we wait for the virus to go away,” said Dr P Gopikumar, Indian Medical Association (IMA) state secretary.
Recently, the Centre decided to increase the gap between the two doses of Covishield vaccine to 12-16 weeks from six-eight weeks, as was the earlier norm. Experts across the country have urged the Centre to revise its current vaccination strategy and reduce the gap between the two doses, as studies suggest that very less protection is accrued with just the first dose of the vaccine.
The Indian variant is considered to be fast spreading as well as severe in effect, compared to the other variants that have spread in the country. “In younger people infected by Covid-19, say among those above 35 years of age, who took the first dose of vaccination, the severity of the illness is very less when compared to those who had not taken any vaccination.
In cases of pneumonia too, ventilator support is not required for those who have received at least one dose. Therefore, without hesitation, people should get vaccinated even if it is just a single dose. It is better than no jab at all,” said a pulmonologist based in Kochi.
The strict restrictions in place, lack of availability of vaccines and difficulties encountered while registering on the CoWIN portal have slowed down the vaccination drive. “The aim should be to vaccinate all, irrespective of their health condition, at this point in time, and prioritisation for vaccination should be stopped by the state. Also, more the delay in vaccinating the public, more the chances of other mutated strains emerging, which will make the entire process more difficult,” said Dr Gopikumar.
The vaccination drive for those between 18 and 44 years is moving at a snail’s pace in the state. Moreover, private hospitals are being discouraged from giving vaccination, making the going tough for hospitals that had procured the vaccines. “The restrictions in place for allotting slots to the hospitals are controlled by the respective district administration officials. Only limited slots are made available to each hospital, making it difficult for us to vaccinate even our own healthcare staff,” said a doctor with a private hospital in Kochi.
“It is only with sufficient vaccine availability that we can roll out the doses en masse. Vaccination for the 18-44 age group is progressing in various parts of the state. The government has taken steps to procure more vaccines as well as preventive medicines. Even the manufacturers are finding it difficult to produce enough vaccines,” said a health official.