The second Covid vaccine dose for those who took the first shot on Day 1 of inoculation drive on January 16, will be administered on February 13, the government has said. The Centre also said while the country has made remarkable progress in terms of the number of people vaccinated -- reaching the 5 million mark in Covid-19 vaccination in record 21 days -- there is "substantial scope of improvement" in the number of average vaccinations per session.
Twelve states and Union Territories have achieved 60 per cent or more vaccination coverage of healthcare workers, the government said. But all state were advised to "improve the percentage coverage of vaccinated beneficiaries," a statement from the government read.
The government gave the states a deadline today.
"Every State/UT must schedule all healthcare workers for vaccination at least once before 20th Feb 2021 and immediately thereafter organize mop-up rounds for them. Similarly, all frontline workers must be scheduled for vaccination at least once before 6th March 2021 and immediately thereafter organize mop-up rounds for them," the statement read.
The failure of potential beneficiaries to get vaccinated in the mop-up round would automatically push them to age-appropriate vaccination category, the government said.
The slow pace of vaccination has been a matter of concern, with public health experst and administration officials pointing out that at this rate, the country will not be able to meet its own six-month deadline to vaccinate 30 crore people -- health workers, frontline workers, people over the age of 50 and those with co-morbidities.
Doctors and administration officials agree that the dip in numbers is due to what they called vaccine hesitancy -- concerns about the vaccine in the mind of beneficiaries. Many are in a wait-and-watch mode after reports on after-effects. Others are waiting for more options.
Currently two vaccines -- Serum Institute's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin -- are being administered. There is also a chance that a third vaccine – Russian-made Sputnik – will be available in India in April.
On January 30, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had told states that there is a "huge scope for improvement in the number of average vaccinations per session" and had asked them to increase the number of vaccination sites. Soon after, several states, including Delhi, increased the number of vaccination sites.