Frontline medical and healthcare workers can no longer register for COVID-19 vaccination, the Health Ministry said on Saturday. It said the move is to ensure vaccine coverage expands quickly to include more categories of people, such as those above 45, as frontline medical and healthcare workers have already got first priority and enough time to get vaccinated.
Some ineligible beneficiaries in these two categories have been found adding their names and getting vaccinated in violation of guidelines, the Health Ministry said in the order.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said registration of people above 45 will continue on the CoWIN website and asked states and Union Territories to ensure quick vaccination of healthcare and frontline medical workers who have already registered.
When vaccination started in the country in January, there were reports about some healthcare and frontline medical staff showing hesitancy to take the jab. They were thereafter asked to get inoculated and warned of not losing that chance. Doctors and other health professionals were the first categories to be vaccinated in the country.
"All efforts have been made in close collaboration with states/UTs to saturate vaccination for HCWs and FLWs. While tracking the progress, the timeline for completing vaccination of all HCWs and FLWs with the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine has been extended multiple times and was elapsed since these timelines and even after starting vaccination of population above 60 years, provision was made to register and vaccinate HCWs and FLWs with a view to ensure optimum coverage," the Health Secretary said in the letter, referring to healthcare workers (HCW) and frontline medical workers (FLW).
"Various inputs have been received from different sources that in some of the CVCs (Covid vaccination centres), some ineligible beneficiaries are being registered as HCWs and FLWs and are getting vaccinated in complete violation of the prescribed guidelines. There has been 24 per cent increase in HCW database in the past few days. This issue was discussed with state representatives and domain knowledge experts... It has been decided that no fresh registrations in categories of HCWs and FLWs will be allowed with immediate effect," the Health Secretary said.
So far 7.44 crore vaccine doses have been used across the country, the Health Ministry said on Saturday. These include 89,53,552 HCWs who have taken the first dose and 53,06,671 HCWs who have taken the second dose; 96,19,289 FLWs who have received the first dose and 40,18,526 FLWs who have taken the second dose.
4,57,78,875 and 7,65,354 people over 45 years old have been vaccinated with the first and second dose, respectively.
The vaccination drive is going in full speed amid concerns over a second wave of infections. Some states like Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat and Delhi have reported a spike in daily COVID-19 cases.