Poor response to booster jabs prompts govt rethink

The Ministry of Health is considering whether to expand the campaign promoting the free covid-19 booster dose after only about 20% of eligible beneficiaries participated in the injection over a two-and-a-half month period.

The campaign started on July 15, will end today. To date, only about 200 million booster doses have been administered, well below the goal of at least 950 million doses of the free vaccine.

Government experts say the campaign has not been successful in encouraging many people to continue receiving the free shots as people are no longer afraid of covid-19, especially because the Omicron variant is thought to be mild.

A decision is expected soon.

“The adoption of preventive doses is poor across India even after the announcement of a free preventive dose for all,” an official said.

“When it was charged, we thought people were not willing to pay for a third dose. Now that we’re giving it away for free for all 18+ years, the response isn’t overly promising,” the official, who asked to remain anonymous, added.

“The Ministry of Health is discussing next steps whether to extend the 75-day free preventive dose campaign further. There may be a final decision soon. “

To date, 208 million booster doses have been administered to individuals over the age of 18, including healthcare workers (7 million), frontline workers (13.6 million), according to Ministry of Health figures. , the elderly (46.9 million) and 141 million others. between the ages of 18-59 years old.

Overall, India has injected around 2.18 billion doses in the nationwide covid-19 vaccination campaign that started in January last year. This figure includes booster doses.

“Most of my patients have yet to complete their vaccinations,” said Dr. Bobby Bhalotra, a lung disease researcher at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. Fallopian tube infections are mild now, but in the event a new and dangerous variant emerges, this booster dose becomes an additional shield.

Vaccines take time to respond, and taking a booster dose now will benefit it in the future. In fact, people have stopped wearing masks. We must continue our preventive tools and a booster dose is a must. “

A booster dose, also known as a third or preventive dose, enhances immunity received from previous primary vaccines.

Ministry of Health data shows that absorption of the booster dose is particularly poor in all of the North East states, Chandigarh, Goa, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.

Queries emailed to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health did not receive a response while the National Health Service, which manages all vaccination data on the CoWIN portal, declined to respond. Dr Anant Mohan, professor in the department of pulmonology, AIIMS Delhi, said, “People are thinking that Covid is not so serious now… rather it is like another flu, and hence they become more present. more cause-and-effect relationships. It is more people’s thinking. There needs to be continuing education, reinforcement, and promotion of booster doses for people to start moving towards booster use. “

The US and UK have authorized second booster injections for older adults and those at high risk, such as immunocompromised people, pregnant women, and frontline and care workers. society.

After the devastating initial phase of the pandemic, with more than 450 million cases and half a million deaths, the number of covid-19 infections has dropped to around 4,000 a day in India. However, the Center has advised the highest level how to monitor, hospitalize, test and treat promptly.

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