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Centre flags falling COVID vaccination numbers in some states; announces campaign to raise vaccine uptake

The ministry has announced that a two-month-long “Har Ghar Dastak 2.0” campaign will be launched in June to accelerate the pace of COVID-19 vaccination coverage and saturate all eligible beneficiaries.

May 20, 2022 / 04:21 PM IST
(Representational image)

(Representational image)

The Union health ministry has flagged declining COVID-19 vaccination number in some states over the last several weeks, and announced that a two-month long campaign will be launched beginning June to further accelerate the vaccination coverage.

The campaign will be called 'Har Ghar Dastak 2.0', according to a government statement.

The Centre has pointed out that the uptake of booster doses among people aged 18-59 years is very poor and the COVID-19 vaccination for the 12-14-year age group has also not received the desired pace yet.

So far, nearly 192 crore COVID-19 vaccine shots have been administered in the country but less than 17 lakh people aged 18-59 years have opted for the booster dose since it was opened for all adults beginning April 10.

Also, only about 1.3 crore children aged 12-14 years have been fully vaccinated yet.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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In a review meeting with states, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan also said that vaccination centres or state governments must not insist on any document of foreign travel for precaution doses for eligible beneficiaries.

Recently, the Centre had allowed citizens planning visits abroad to receive their third or booster COVID-19 jabs as per the requirement of the country of the travel, provided that they have completed three months since their second dose. For all others, there has to be a gap of nine months between the second and the third jab of coronavirus vaccine.

In the meeting, Bhushan also urged states to prevent COVID-19 vaccine wastage by first using vaccine vials that are nearing their expiry dates.

A statement by the health ministry said that the objective of the 'Har Ghar Dastak 2.0' campaign would be to vaccinate and saturate the eligible population groups for first, second and precaution doses through door-to-door campaigns, with focussed campaigns for old age homes, schools and colleges including the out-of-school children, prisons and brick kilns among others.

Also read: Explained | Why India should worry as monkeypox clusters emerge in Europe and the disease reaches North America 

“The sub-optimal coverage of persons aged ≥ 60years with precaution dose which renders them vulnerable, along with considerably slower speed of coverage in the 12-14 years cohort was pointed out,” said the statement.

It added that the states have been urged to undertake effective monitoring with micro-plans based on due-lists of all eligible beneficiaries. The states have also been instructed to review administration of precaution dose to 18-59-year age-group with the private hospitals on a regular basis.

It was pointed out that in some states, persons who wish to travel abroad and seek to take a precaution dose within 90 days of the second dose, are being asked to furnish proof of the intended foreign journey, the ministry said.

Bhushan has directed states that under no circumstances should any COVID-19 vaccination centre or state government insist on any documentary proof of foreign travel for those who are seeking a precaution dose ahead of their travel abroad, according to the ministry.
Sumi Sukanya Dutta
first published: May 20, 2022 03:06 pm
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