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Vaccination for 45-plus

Immunization against COIVD-19 virus infection is poised for a boost with extension of vaccination to all persons aged 45 years and above irrespective of comorbidities starting today.


Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  1 April 2021 2:30 AM GMT

Immunization against COIVD-19 virus infection is poised for a boost with extension of vaccination to all persons aged 45 years and above irrespective of comorbidities starting today. Promoting on-site registration in rural Assam with poor internet coverage will be critical to successful rolling out of the vaccine coverage for everyone in the targeted age group. Achieving high coverage of vaccination is crucial to flatten the fresh peak in the pandemic curve in the country. The Central government has described the prevailing pandemic situation in the country to have escalated from "bad to worse over the last few weeks" and asked the states to enforce COVID-appropriate behaviour in all public places. As it takes four to eight weeks for administering the second dose after the first dose of vaccine is given to an individual, effect of vaccination all above 45 years age the surge in COVID -19 cases will be felt only after two months. This also depends on factors like vaccine hesitancy and number of registrations for vaccinations. The pandemic curve will continue to rise over the next two months, if measures to prevent spread of infections are not taken by the states along with vaccination drive. The Union Health Ministry has stated that India's total active caseload reached 5,52,566 on Wednesday which is 4.55% of the country's total positive cases. Altogether 354 deaths were reported between Tuesday and Wednesday. Five states- Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Kerala, Chhattisgarh accounted for 79.30 per cent of the active caseload. The country recorded 1,62,468 deaths till Wednesday on account of COVID-19 infection. Active caseload in Assam is also gradually increasing and has touched the 500 mark with detection of on an average 40-50 new cases. The active caseload in the state was less than 300 till March 19 and this should sound caution against any complacency on the part of the health authorities as well as people in the state. Average daily testing figures also remained low in the range of 12,000 a day. Ramping up testing will help early detection and isolation of positive cases before they spread infection to many in the community. Immunization drive has not gathered momentum in the state. Mass crowding in election rallies when less than state population has kept the apprehension of a fresh peak in the pandemic curve alive as the vaccination has remained low. The cumulative number of beneficiaries who have received second dose of vaccine is still less than 1.5 lakh against total 3.12 crore population. On-site registration in the nearest vaccination centres should be promoted in areas with poor internet access. Door-to-door campaign by frontline health workers for on-site registration in those areas can help build the momentum. Only 26.80 per cent of total rural population of 2.68 crore in Assam has access to internet. The explains that the low registration in the state is not merely on account of comorbidity restriction till March 31 but also because of poor digital access for online registration in App-based COWIN portal or the Aarogya Setu App. Apart from on-site registration, the beneficiaries will also have freedom to schedule their own dates for the second dose anytime between four and eight weeks of getting the first dose. The Centre has advised the States and Union Territories to maintain vaccine wastage at less than 1%, regularly review vaccine wastage across all levels to minimize it, ensure timely utilization of available stocks to avoid expiry of vaccines without usage and timely updating of data of vaccine consumption and promptly supply vaccines to all government and private hospitals where there is a demand. The country exhibited its resilience in the fight against the pandemic by building capacity of hospitals, strengthening ambulance system, increasing the number of intensive care units, ensuring dedicated oxygen supplies to take care of the emergency cases. The state too has added to its critical health infrastructure over the past one year and a review of the preparedness to invoke emergency healthcare response system in the event of a fresh peak in the state will help identify the critical gaps. Transparency about the state of alertness will boost confidence among the people and prevent spread of rumour by vested forces. There are no visible efforts by the authorities to enforce mandatory wearing of facemask. Health Ministry has been reminding all citizens to use mask, eligible beneficiaries to get vaccinated and continue observing COVID-appropriate behaviours until the country is declared free of COVID-19 virus. The battle against the pandemic is going to be long drawn. Achieving the targets set by Ministry of Health for vaccine coverage of eligible beneficiaries will add to country's resilience. Roping in panchayats and authorities of autonomous councils to give a push for vaccination in the state will help health authorities reach out everyone in the age group of 45 plus.

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