CHENNAI: Inadequate supply of vaccines continues to hamper the vaccination drive in Tamil Nadu. While the State has a capacity to inoculate eight lakh people a day, the average vaccination hovers around 2.4 lakh, which is a paltry 30 per cent.
Health officials, based on their assessment of manpower and infrastructure in the State, said, “We have close to 50,000 staff trained to vaccinate people while adequate health infrastructure is also present in all districts.” An official added that the State has an additional 2,000 public health centres run by municipal corporations. Officials also argued that TN had vaccinated at least 69 lakh children against polio in 2021, during the pandemic, in just a week’s time. “The Centre must ramp up their supply,” said an official from the department.
According to the data shared by the Union Health Ministry, as of August 2, TN stood eighth in the country in the number of people, aged above 45, who received the first dose. While the top seven States administered vaccines to over one crore people in the same age category, TN vaccinated as many as 83,58,273 people. The State stands at 11th position in terms of the total number of doses administered to the same age group.
In the 18-44 age group, TN stood eighth again, in the total number of doses administered. While the top seven States gave more than one crore doses, TN had given as many as 97.91 lakh. According to another data released in Lok Sabha on July 30, the State ranked 9th in terms of total number of doses received from the Union government, with about 1.62 crore doses.
‘Use Chengalpattu plant or hand it over to TN’
Experts opined that although Tamil Nadu has robust manpower and infrastructure to vaccinate people and even to manufacture vaccines, it is worrying to see the State do it at much lesser rate than its capacity. “TN can actually vaccinate up to 10 lakh people a day. Either the Central government should make use of the Chengalpattu plant or hand it over to the State to boost manufacturing.
Supply constraints need to be addressed,” said Dr K Kolandasamy, former Director of Public Health. Since the Budget had a lesser mention on spending for the salary in healthcare sector, he said the State coffers would have adequate funds to allocate to strengthening the infrastructure for vaccines, even in the King’s Institute in Chennai. The red-tapism in the functioning of the Chengalpattu plant has also hindered the vaccine production capacity of the State.
Recently, the Union government had said that the plant may need infrastructure upgrade to produce vaccines but did not mention when it may function or the measures taken in this regard. Finance Minister Palanivel Thiyagarajan, in his Budget speech last week, had announced that the State is receiving only an average of 2.4 lakh doses a day against its capacity to vaccinate eight lakh people on a daily basis. This may be a cause for concern as with the reopening of public life, the faster the vaccines are administered, the more people would be protected from the pandemic.
- TN vaccinating at around 30% of its capacity
- 2.4 lakh doses being received a day, while State can vaccinate 8 lakh a day
- 11th in total doses administered to 45+ age group
- 8th in total doses administered to 18-44 age group