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The Union Health Secretary has also asked states to prepare for a two-month long Har Ghar Dastak campaign

The Union Health Ministry on Friday expressed concerns over “the slow pace” of Covid-19 vaccination across states and Union Territories (UT). During a review meeting, state governments were asked to speed up the process toward full vaccination coverage. Chaired by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan the virtual meeting was attended by health secretaries from various states and Union Territories.

According to a senior official of the Union Health Ministry, India’s daily vaccination rate has fallen alongside lower Covid case counts. Over a 30 day period (between April 20 and May 19), daily vaccination fell from 16,59,196 doses (first, second and booster dose combined) to 15,05,841, a near 10 per cent drop. The lowest number of doses were administered on April 24 (Sunday) at 382,968, while April 30 (Saturday) saw administration of over 28,21,000 doses. However, administration of precautionary doses (or booster dose) over the same 30–day period rose 22 per cent.

‘Pick up pace’

Some states, the official said, were not “aggressive enough” in administering second or booster doses. This has led to “some slackening” and an increase in gaps between doses.

“So, it was decided at the review meeting to speed up vaccine administration and pull up states. We are not expecting some new wave of infections in June or July; but vaccine coverage must still be ramped up,” he said.

The official explained that during the third wave, hospitalisations were low despite the country reporting close to 3,50,000 cases per day. So vaccines did play a key role in reducing hospitalisations and mortalities.

“States also have enough stock of vaccines and there’s no shortage,” he explained.

The Union Health Secretary has also asked states to prepare for a two-month long Har Ghar Dastak campaign 2.0 — with comprehensive district, block and village level strategies — during June-July “to accelerate the recent placid momentum”.

Door-to-door campaign

The goal of the program would be to “vaccinate and saturate” eligible population groups for the first, second and booster doses through door-to-door campaigns, and targeted campaigns for old age homes, schools, colleges, out-of-school children (for focused coverage of children aged 12-18 years), prisons, brick kilns and other locations.

“The 12-14 year group had sub-optimal coverage with prophylactic doses,” a government statement said.

Clarification for travel

During the meeting, it was also clarified that no vaccination centre or state government should require formal proof of overseas travel for people seeking a prophylactic dosage prior to travelling abroad.

India has already administered 191.96 crore Covid doses across first, second and booster shots. On May 20, India reported over 15,000 active Covid cases with 2,614 fresh cases being reported on a 24-hour basis. The country reported 20 deaths, 17 of which were reconciliation cases from Kerala.

Published on May 20, 2022