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Covid-19: Worried Over Slow Uptake of 2nd Vaccine Dose, Modi Govt Plans Campaign to Boost Awareness

Officials have been asked to draft strategies to increase the uptake of second dose of Covid-19 vaccines. (Reuters)

Officials have been asked to draft strategies to increase the uptake of second dose of Covid-19 vaccines. (Reuters)

While the states have been maintaining comfortable balance of vaccine stock in hand, the number of doses administered is relatively low.

Noticing the slower uptake, the Narendra Modi government is planning to release a campaign for the promotion of second dose of Covid-19 vaccination, News18.com has learnt. The objective of the campaign will be to stress on the importance of being fully-vaccinated against Covid-19.

India has so far vaccinated more than 70% of the adult population with the first dose, whereas around 30% of the target population has been vaccinated with second dose or is fully-vaccinated.

While the states have been maintaining comfortable balance of vaccine stock in hand, the number of doses administered is relatively low. For instance, on Saturday last week, the stock available with states stood at 11.12 crore vaccines, whereas they administered a total of around 38 lakh doses. Similarly, on Wednesday, a balance of around 8.50 crore was available with states whereas the doses administered stood at 50 lakh. On Thursday, 27 lakh doses were administered, whereas 8.89 crore doses were available.

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“After the completion of 100 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccine, there seems to be a need to promote the second dose. As the cases of infection are going down, people are also taking the second shot lightly and not turning up on their due dates,” said a senior official at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The same concern, the source said, has been highlighted by Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya in internal meetings, and the officials have been asked to draft strategies and push the second dose uptake. “We have been told to think along the lines of the theme of the campaign. The states will soon be asked to draft plans,” he said.

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The official said that the plan will involve ASHA workers, healthcare workers and special teams going back to areas where second dose numbers are low and remind the beneficiaries to take the shot due.

“The states will also be asked to revisit people who have not been taking the jabs due to vaccine hesitancy. Convincing them is easy now as there are no major side-effects noticed despite vaccinating majority of the country. Other promotional activities such as involvement of local and national celebrities, audio and visual songs and informative posters will also be undertaken."

Vaccine Supply Greater Than Demand

According to government data, the current stock of vaccines lying with states as on Monday was around 10.72 crore doses. The states have been consistently maintaining the balance of over 10 crore doses since the last six days.

While supplies by the manufacturer of Covishield, the Serum Institute of India, have increased further from 16 crore to 20 crore this month, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin has also increased its supplies as it aims to supply 5.5 crore doses in October against the earlier supplies of 3.5 crore.

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Another reason, cited the source quoted above, is the complacency in taking the pending dose. “Now we have supply exceeding the demand. People are busy with their daily activities and postponing the plans to take a second dose. They are not afraid anymore.”

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first published:October 18, 2021, 16:07 IST