Government’s 75-day campaign to provide free precautionary supplements COVID-19 Vaccines ended on Friday with 15.92 crore such doses administered during this period.
This campaign started in mid-July to commemorate 75 years of India’s independence. Before it was introduced, only 8 percent of adults in the country had received a third dose of the vaccine. At the end of the drive, that number is 27 percent. Three-quarters of India’s adult population is yet to receive a third dose.
According to the data provided by the Health Ministry, over a period of 75 days, over 13.01 lakh vaccination camps were conducted in the country, including 4,451 organized on routes of religious pilgrimages. Most of the camps – 11.03 lakh – were conducted at private and government workplaces.
Ever since India started offering the third dose in January this year, it has been free for people above 60 years of age. It was also available free of cost to all healthcare and frontline workers. From April, the government has allowed the third dose to be administered to people in the age group of 18-59 at private immunization centers on payment.
Experts say that the low fear of a COVID-19 infection, as well as instances of infection – albeit mostly mild – have reduced demand for a third dose of vaccine despite vaccination. Also lacking in demand is the fact that a precautionary dose certificate is not mandatory for travel or entry to multiple locations that require double vaccination proof.
Last week, Indian Express NDMA reported that the coverage of the third dose varied across states. It ranges from 92.1 percent in Andaman and Nicobar Islands to 6.11 percent in Meghalaya.
With almost the entire population of the country receiving the first dose of the vaccine, the precautionary dose coverage in the states has been calculated considering the number of first doses given to adults as the total eligible adult population.
In DelhiThe only state to provide free precautionary doses to all adults even before the Centre’s 75-day campaign, the precautionary dose coverage stood at 19.6 per cent – behind larger states such as Odisha (38 per cent), Gujarat (37.7 per cent). Uttar Pradesh (28 percent), Bihar (23.4 percent), West Bengal (22.98 percent), and Madhya Pradesh (24.4 percent).
The coverage of precautionary doses in states like Maharashtra and Kerala, which have been dealing with consistently high numbers of Covid-19 cases throughout the pandemic, were the lowest at 10.7 per cent and 11.09 per cent, respectively.