The least coverage in the 18-44 age cohort as vaccine resistance plays a part
A month ago, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare opened up booster doses of the vaccine for all adults in India. However, the pace of booster administration still hasn’t picked up in the country.
As of May 9, only about 2.1 per cent of the total population of India has gotten a booster dose. This is when 25 per cent of the people across the world have received a booster shot. In contrast to India’s 2 per cent, 30 per cent of the US population, 53 per cent of UAE’s population, 59 per cent of the UK’s population, and 3.3 per cent of Pakistan’s population have received a third dose of the covid vaccine. On the other hand, Chile has administered booster shots to 96 per cent of its population. India’s position globally on this ground is similar to that of Georgia and Egypt, where only 2.2 per cent and 2.6 per cent of the , respectively, have received precautionary doses of the C vaccine.
Until May 9, only 2.96 crore booster doses have been administered across the country. Despite jabbing a whopping 32.94 lakh people on January 13, the day India opened up booster vaccines for immunocompromised seniors, the doses fell drastically from the next day. The second-highest number of doses, 11,67,333, was administered on January 19. After that, there was no day when a million people got the booster jab, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data.
Who is eligible for a jab?
In India, anyone above 18 can get a booster dose, provided there is a nine-month gap between the day of getting the jab and the day on which they got the second dose. As of May 9, 2022, 11.4 crore people across the country can get the precautionary shot. However, only a little over a fourth of them have received the shot — 25.9 per cent. This is approximately 2.1 per cent of the population.
Of the people who received a booster dose, the majority are seniors (53 per cent), followed by frontline workers (26.8 per cent) and healthcare workers (16.6 per cent). The least coverage is in the 18-60 population, where only 10.9 lakh people got the jab. This age group forms around 58.9 per cent of the population. This is when over 86 per cent of the adult population in the country has received two doses of the vaccine.
What is stopping Indians from getting the shot?
The booster dose in India is free only for people above 60 and the frontline and healthcare workers. Incidentally, they form the majority of people who have gotten the jab.
At the same time, doctors do not think that price plays much of a role here. Oommen John, Senior Public Health Expert, George Institute for Global Health, believes that the cost may not be restricting a lot of people from getting jabbed. “During the initial phases, we could see health workers identifying eligible people and pursuing them to get vaccinated. However, it seems like booster doses are voluntary,” he says, adding, “Also, people are now aware that vaccines don’t stop C, but reduce the symptoms. So, they may be hesitant in getting a booster.”