Vaccination Trends: Two southern states top India, youth yet to warm up

Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have topped the charts in India’s Covid-19 vaccination drive with each inoculating more than 80,000 healthcare workers since Saturday. The performance has, nevertheless, been far short of the daily shots targeted. Frontline health workers are yet to warm up to the vaccine. Tamil Nadu and Kerala, however, have been off mark by a wide margin.

Since most health workers including doctors are young, they may have thought they don’t need it. Fear of the unknown may have also been a factor, a senior health official in Bengaluru said. As of Wednesday evening, Karnataka had administered vaccines to 116,897 persons, followed by 81,043 in Andhra Pradesh, according to the official data. Telangana figures, however, had not been released. Tamil Nadu and Kerala vaccinated just about 32,085 and 24,117 people respectively in the last five days, falling behind their southern peers.

TN health secretary J Radhakrishnan said his state’s performance of 32,000 people being vaccinated is a good number. “Vaccination should happen organically and there is no need to strike the panic button every other day.” He said the state had done well in vaccination amid Pongal which is the big festival. “We are aware that this is going to be a long-drawn exercise and our main focus is to keep capacity at a decent level.”

Dr Amar Fettle, Kerala’s nodal officer for Covid & H1N1, said the initial response to vaccination was similar even during the H1N1 pandemic a decade ago, but later it picked momentum, and everyone accepted it. “It is to be expected in a highly literate state like Kerala. We are strictly following the Centre’s guidelines and not forcing the vaccine on anybody. We are anyway not in competition with other states, but safety is of paramount importance for us.”

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Karnataka’s vaccination data shows it could meet barely half the daily target over the last four days. Even then, the state has been ahead of others and health minister Dr K Sudhakar is hopeful of meeting three-fourths of the target in the coming weeks. The minister reckoned that scores of healthcare workers probably are waiting to see how others are responding. “We can sense some initial hesitation. They will overcome that and be receptive to the vaccine,” he said. About seven lakh healthcare workers have registered on the CoWin portal in Karnataka. Several private hospitals have set up vaccination facilities for their staffers and are recording 60-70% turnout.

In Telangana, officials have vaccinated about 74% of enrolled health workers without any major errors and difficulties, according to health & medical secretary Syed Murtaza Rizvi. The state, however, is yet to communicate on vaccinating healthcare workers in the private sector, a spokesperson at Apollo Hospitals said. Indications are that the private sector will be supplied with vaccine doses from next Monday, he added. Private hospitals with 100 plus staffers will receive their jabs in the first phase and 179 such private hospitals have been identified so far and 1.9 lakh doses allotted, a health official added.

State Total vaccinated
Andhra Pradesh 81043
Karnataka 116897
Kerala 24117
Tamil Nadu 32085
Telangana 69405 (as on Jan 19 evening)

(As at 6 pm, Jan 20; Source: GoI)



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