Over 20% of total vaccine doses given in Bengaluru
Experts emphasise need to bridge digital divide and microplan to ensure no area is deprived of benefits of vaccination
Although Karnataka is one of the few States that has administered more than one crore doses of vaccine to various categories of beneficiaries so far, there is a considerable gap between urban and rural areas.
Till Thursday (May 20), the State administered 1,17,94,907 doses. This includes 92,23,948 first doses and 25,70,959 second doses. Over 20% of the total doses have been administered in Bengaluru. This includes 18.73% in BBMP areas apart from 2.75% in Bengaluru Urban limits. This is followed by Mysuru, where 7.05% of the total doses have been administered.
Kodagu and Yadgir have seen the lowest with 1.07% and 1.4% of doses administered respectively.
According to an analysis by The Hindu’s data team, while Bengaluru Urban has seen 26.4 doses administered per 100 persons till May 20, districts in the rest of Karnataka have seen 18 doses per 100 persons. This disparity is more pronounced in administering the second dose. While 6.59 doses have been administered per 100 persons in Bengaluru Urban, it is 3.77 in other districts.
While vaccination was initially allowed only on prior registration on the CoWIN portal, the government allowed walk-in registrations subsequently. However, following shortage of vaccines, the clause of prior registration is again being followed in almost all vaccination sites, except in some private hospitals.
Giridhara R. Babu, member of the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), who is also the head of Lifecourse Epidemiology at the Indian Institute of Public Health in Bengaluru, attributed the poor response in rural areas mainly to the digital divide between urban and rural areas and lack of microplanning.
“We need detailed microplanning, a plan for social mobilisation, and allaying misconceptions. It is unfortunate that we have not done enough microplanning before starting the drive to ensure no area is deprived of the benefits of vaccination,” Dr. Babu said.
Referring to prior registrations on CoWIN portal being made mandatory, Dr. Babu said: “Although people have smartphones now, most do not know how to register on the portal. Only a small proportion of the privileged will end up getting vaccinated,” he said, adding that walk-in registrations should be the norm.
C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer for labs and testing in the State’s COVID-19 task force, said: “With the surge now shifting from Bengaluru Urban to the districts, intensifying the drive in districts has become all the more important. With more deaths being reported from districts other than Bengaluru now, people should be sensitised and the drive should be further intensified there,” he said, emphasising the need for uninterrupted supply.
However, V. Ravi, nodal officer for genomic confirmation for SARS-CoV-2 in Karnataka, argued that the distribution of vaccines in districts has been equitable so far based on the population. “Bengaluru is the most populous city with one-sixth of the State’s population. With the density of infection high here, the distribution of vaccines is also obviously high here. However, the clause of vaccination only with pre-registration is a hindrance in rural areas,” added Dr. Ravi.