Third dose of Covid vaccine takes off, over 1 million inoculated

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At least one million healthcare and frontline workers, and senior citizens with comorbidities were inoculated with the third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine as the Centre rolled out what it calls precautionary doses on Monday.

According to data available in the CoWIN dashboard, the country administered 1,051,456 third doses to the eligible population with maximum (179,339) doses being given around 1 pm. Nearly 315,000 doses were administered to senior citizens with comorbidities.

People familiar with the developments said the vaccination process turned out to be smooth with no major glitches.

“The day went pretty smoothly as far as the CoWIN system is considered; nothing major was brought to our notice. Our system is quite robust and designed to take the kind of load that is expected in a country like ours. It was a good day,” RS Sharma, National Health Authority chief executive officer, who supervises functioning of the CoWIN portal, said.

The third doses are part of the government’s next phase on coronavirus vaccinations, which comes at a time when the country is in the grip of a third wave driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on December 25 announced the third dose for all health and front line workers, and citizens aged 60 years or above with comorbidities as these were at high risk of getting severe disease. The concerned groups will be allowed to take the third dose only if they had taken the second dose more than nine months ago.

States such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Karnataka reported a reasonable turnout for the third dose.

While Uttar Pradesh administered 58,669 doses, Rajasthan gave 95,540 doses and , Madhya Pradesh gave 64,901. Bihar administered 64,061 doses and Karnataka 81,728 doses till 9 pm.

In the north east, a total of 7,921 additional vaccine doses were administered. The figure stood at 2,200 in Tripura.

The national capital saw close to 20,000 precautionary doses being administered to around 300,000 eligible beneficiaries.

A senior official at the Delhi health department said that messages urging senior citizens, who have completed nine months since their second dose of vaccination, to get their precautionary doses were sent across. Additional staff was also deployed at several vaccination centres in the city to help senior citizens with their queries and assist them during the process.

As per the Union government’s guidelines, the third shot of Covid vaccine will be of the same dose as the first two, even if a shot is taken at a different centre than where it was previously taken.

“Full portability is offered. No restriction on mobility across vaccination centres. Mixing of vaccines is not recommended and hence the provision is not there,” Vikas Sheel, additional secretary (health), said on Twitter about the precaution dose process.

Sheel further explained that healthcare and frontline workers, who took vaccination under the normal category, may upload their employment certificates on CoWIN, and get tagged in the appropriate category to receive the third dose.

Meanwhile, during his review with certain states on Monday, Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya stressed on the administration of precaution dose for the identified categories, and urged states to ensure full coverage of the vulnerable population at the earliest

For the convenience of beneficiaries, the health ministry also wrote to states, asking them to keep timings for getting vaccinated at Covid vaccination centres flexible.

“This is with reference to the operationalisation of Covid vaccination centres… There is an impression that these Covid vaccination centres can operate only from 8am to 8pm, daily. In this regard, it is to reiterate that no time limit has been set for the operationalisation of the covid vaccination centres,” the letter by Manohar Agnani, additional secretary’s (health), to states said.

“The session timings are subject to the demand and the requirement at a particular Covid vaccination centre. In case of an increased demand, it is advised that multiple teams may be arranged at each Covid vaccination centre to cater to the need. It is again reiterated that the timings of the Covid vaccination centres is flexible and can be upto 10pm in the night based on availability of HR and infrastructure,” he added.

The letter also directed states to ensure strict adherence to Covid appropriate behavior at vaccination centres to avoid spread of infection.

“As you would appreciate, our efforts should be directed towards maximizing the convenience of the citizens along with ensuring safety and quality under the National Covid-19 vaccination programme…,” Agnani saind.

A total of nearly 8.5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses were administered across the country on Monday under the national immunisation programme, as per the CoWIN dashboard.


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