The government today expressed satisfaction at the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations as it gets closer to its targets. "We had estimated that we have about one crore healthcare workers. But when we registered them it was around 96 lakh (96,31,637). 43.9 lakh (43,91,826) have already been vaccinated as of 1.30 pm today, which means 45 per cent of India's total healthcare workers have been vaccinated. This is satisfactory," Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.
NITI Aayog member and chairman of National Expert Committee on Vaccine Administration Dr VK Paul added, "Vaccine acceptability is very positive now. Hesitancy has reduced to a significant extent. We thank our healthcare workers and the media for sending the right message. Vaccination of frontline workers has also begun. For the next phase of vaccinating senior citizens, we are headed in the right direction."
13 states have vaccinated more than 50 per cent of their healthcare workers, the top three states being Madhya Pradesh (73.6 per cent), Rajasthan (66.8 per cent) and Tripura (65.5 per cent).
But some others have covered less than 30 per cent of their healthcare workers. Sikkim is at 29.9 per cent, Jammu and Kashmir at 23.2 per cent, Tamil Nadu at 23.7 per cent and Chandigarh at 22.6 per cent.
"We are holding virtual conferences with these states and are advising them on how to improve the numbers," Rajesh Bhushan said.
The government today claimed that it was involving the private sector too in vaccinations as over 1,200 (1,239) private hospitals were already carrying out vaccinations along with 5,912 government facilities. They also gave a clarification on questions about vaccine vials expiring.
"We are dispelling the narrative that private sector is not being involved in vaccinations in India. They are an integral part and we are very proud of them. There is an active, steady and highly satisfactory participation from their end. We also want to dispel another notion on vaccines lying unused. We will not let even a single vial expire. There is no question of letting go of its utility. We are monitoring this twice a day. We know which batches are expiring when. Some batches have been exported also. No precious dose will ever go waste because we could not administer it on time," said Dr VK Paul said.
India has vaccinated nearly 46 lakh healthcare and frontline workers till today afternoon and aims to vaccinate a total of 30 crore people by July 2021. A total of 8,563 adverse events have been reported (till Thursday afternoon) which is 0.18 per cent of total vaccinations. So far 34 cases of hospitalisation have taken place post vaccination and that is 0.0007 per cent of total vaccinations.
There have been 19 deaths post-vaccination. The cause of none of these deaths so far has been attributable to the vaccine.
"There is a structured and robust system for reporting of adverse effects in India. There is a system for post-mortem and state AEFI (adverse event post immunization) committee and a national committee that is looking at all these 19 cases. It is often wrongly said that 'government rushed to claim that it's not related to vaccination'. There are mechanisms at different levels. All these 19 deaths, post-mortem has been conducted on them too. Once the national AEFI committee also reviews it, we'll then be in a better position to give you a clearer picture," Rajesh Bhushan said.