COVID-19 vaccination: 1.5 lakh people in Maharashtra skipped 2nd dose, says state health department
Photo Credit: AFP

Mumbai: As the dreaded and highly infectious Delta and Delta plus variants of Covid-19 sweep across India and the world, nearly 1.5 lakh beneficiaries across Maharashtra have not turned up for their second dose of vaccination against the virus, the state health department said on Tuesday. Of these, 50,000 to 60,000 beneficiaries are from Mumbai. Earlier this month, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had launched a drive to trace nearly 40,000 beneficiaries who had missed dates for their second jabs.

A senior state immunisation official said it’s important to probe why second dose numbers are low and if it’s a result of glitches, duplications in registration, simply fear or some other factors. Meanwhile, BMC ward offices have been entrusted with the task of calling up citizens to inquire about reasons behind their absence.

Dr Archana Patil, joint director of Directorate of Health and Services, didn’t confirm the number but said more than one lakh people from Maharashtra haven’t taken the second dose – this includes both Covishield and Covaxin. She said the department has begun the search for these people on the basis of contact details provided at the time of registration.

State immunisation officer Dr Dilip Patil said district health officers across the state have been directed to trace beneficiaries who have skipped their second doses. “We have asked them to call each beneficiary and request them to complete their vaccination, as this is the only barrier between them and SARS-CoV-2 virus,” said Dr Patil.

Meanwhile, the BMC has made seven categories for ‘dropouts’, based on probable reasons for not getting vaccinated. These categories include pregnancy, Covid infection, unwillingness to take the vaccine, willingness to take it in a day or two, and those who are untraceable. A senior civic health official said, “As per our knowledge, the number of those untraceable appears to be high and most of the ‘dropouts’ took Covaxin as their first dose.”

Surprisingly, healthcare and frontline workers account for a hefty share of ‘dropouts’. Of 1.9 lakh healthcare and 2.3 lakh frontline workers who took the first dose, only 64% and 55% respectively have taken their second dose.

Duplication in entries could also be a reason; if one has registered with different numbers or identity documents, it may not show on the CoWin portal. A doctor handling the vaccination drive at civic-run Covid-19 vaccination centres said, “Healthcare and frontline workers constitute the highest number that missed the second dose. Some of them missed it out of fear as they developed side-effects after the first dose, or because they got infected after their first dose.”

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