COVID-19 vaccination: Second dose coverage remains at 51%
Over 40 lakh due for second dose in Karnataka, which has surplus stock of vaccine
Although over 40 lakh people are due for the second dose of COVID-19 vaccination in Karnataka, it has become a challenging task for the state to get them inoculated. As of Tuesday, the second dose coverage in the state stood at 51% while 88% of the 4.89 crore population has been administered the first dose.
It is quite the reverse of the situation two months ago, when there was a shortage of vaccines and people waited in long queues before vaccination centres. The pace of vaccination picked up after vaccine supply from the centre was streamlined. Now the state has surplus stock of vaccines but no takers. As of Tuesday, the state had a stock of 60 lakh doses.
State health officials admitted that people are reluctant to get vaccinated, mainly because the number of new COVID-19 cases have reduced drastically.
According to data from the state health department, the second dose coverage in 17 of the 31 districts is less than the state average of 51%. Bengaluru Urban district has seen the highest second dose coverage at 78%, followed by Kodagu (62%), Ramanagaram (61%), and BBMP (59%).
North Karnataka districts of Kalaburagi, Raichur, and Haveri have recorded the lowest second dose coverage at 39% followed by Davangere (42%), Dharwad (43%), and Yadgir (44%). In fact, the trend of poor vaccination in several North Karnataka districts has been continuing for months now. The state’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) had warned that the third wave, if and when it happens, is likely to hit this region the most. Arundhathi Chandrashekar, state mission director, National Health Mission, said: “With the number of new cases declining, people have forgotten the virus and feel there is no need to get vaccinated. From November 3, we started the ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ campaign where our vaccinators go door to door to motivate those who are yet to get vaccinated. It will continue till November 30.” They are also calling up those who have missed the second dose. “We are determined to complete at least 95% coverage by December-end,” she said.
‘Adopt Singapore model’
TAC chairman M.K. Sudarshan has said that the government should adopt the Singapore model to ensure maximum vaccination coverage. “Singapore has a rule under which people who opt to remain unvaccinated will have to pay COVID-19 hospitalisation bills. While we cannot deny free treatment in government hospitals, the state should stop referral of unvaccinated people to private hospitals under government quota (where they get free treatment),” he said.
“Besides, the government should also make it mandatory that only fully vaccinated people can enter public places. While vaccination cannot be done forcefully, those who do not have a complete vaccination certificate should be denied entry,” Dr. Sudarshan added.