While the Covid-19 vaccination drive is taking off in Tamil Nadu, vaccine wastage in the state is calculated to be at 3.7 percent. Though the wastage in the state is less than the national average of 6.5 percent which stands at 23 lakh doses, the state government is taking steps to reduce the wastage further.
PM Narendra Modi had recently flagged the issue of vaccine wastage and insisted that states should take steps to ensure zero wastage.
Each vial of Covishield has 10 doses while Covaxin has 20 doses. In Tamil Nadu low turnout has been considered to be the reason behind vaccine wastage. On January 16, when the world’s probably the largest inoculation drive commenced in only 2,684 healthcare workers came forward to take the vaccine shot in the state while the capacity was to vaccinate 16,000 people.
Till date, the state is not vaccinating to its fullest capacity on a daily basis. However, over two months the number of vaccine takers have considerably improved especially after allowing 60 years and above to get vaccinated. A total of 19,66,845 vaccine doses have been administered so far in the state with an average of more than one lakh people taking the jab each day.
“When eight people are ready to get vaccinated it may not be possible to turn them away for shortage of two people. So we have instructed the vaccination centres to identify eligible buffer people who will be ready to get vaccinated either the same day or next day. So if there are two people less to complete the vial they can be called,” Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said.
“Centre wise performance reviews are done on daily basis and those centres where there is consistent poor performance are rationalised. Also, if someone walks in at the fag end of the session and a vial is to be opened for one dose, we convince the beneficiary to come the next day” he said.
Dr Subramanian Swaminathan expert in infectious diseases at Gleaneagles Global Hospitals said that alternate methods to reduce wastage must be thought through. “In a multi dose vial wastage is inevitable. The vials that are available now should be used within four hours. The vaccine manufacturers should think of improving the temperature requirement. When someone is turned away, he or she might not be able to turn up the next day and we may lose the opportunity to vaccinate,” he said.