Ever since the country’s largest Covid-19 inoculation drive began in January 2021, frontline workers were the first priority groups for the authorities. However, almost seven months later, nearly one in five healthcare workers and over a quarter of frontline workers have not yet got their second shots, official data has shown.
A Times of India report stated that a closer look showed widely differing coverage levels in states with Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Delhi having the lowest vaccination coverage.
On the national level, just over 1.03 crore healthcare workers have got the first shot, but under 84 lakh have got the second. While among the frontline workers, 1.83 crore have got their first shot, only 1.32 crore have got the second.
Apart from Punjab, Delhi, and Karnataka, all states have reportedly achieved over 95% coverage of the first dose in both groups. Among the larger states, Kerala, Haryana, and Jharkhand had the best record with complete or near-total coverage of the first dose in both groups and over 85% coverage with the second shot.
Rajasthan, Odisha, Gujarat and Assam have ensured high coverage of first and second dose among both priority groups. Although a smaller state, Goa too has a good record, having ensured 90% plus coverage for second shots in both groups.
In Tamil Nadu, barely 60% of healthcare workers and 40% of frontline workers have received the second dose. State’s Health secretary J Radhakrishnan told TOI that there was vaccine hesitancy and wastage in the first four months of the drive and with this, the allotment came drastically down. “Although allotments have increased, we still have a lot of backlog to clear. This can be set right only if we have on time allocation of 1 crore doses,” he added.
Himachal Pradesh made headlines with the highest overall coverage of vaccinated individuals in the country, it had the lowest proportion of frontline workers who got the second dose, just 38% of the total 5.8 lakh registered.
State health authorities said the gap between coverage of first and second dose was because of the waiting period between doses being increased. Similarly, barely 50% of frontline workers in Karnataka and 57% in Delhi have got the second shot.
Not only the coverage of second dose, but in some states the coverage of first dose was visibly poor- Punjab officials, where only 61% of healthcare workers have got their first dose, blame vaccine shortage but also claim that they don’t have full data after those in the 18-44 age group, including healthcare workers and frontline workers, started getting their doses in the private sector. In Delhi just 87% of healthcare workers have got their first dose.