Jharkhand's booster dose coverage barely 4 per cent
Jharkhand's response to taking the precautionary dose of the Covid-19 vaccine among those above 60 with comorbidities has been lukewarm ever since the nationwide drive was launched on January 10.
About two weeks down the line, the state’s cumulative coverage is barely 4 per cent of the 6.50 lakh eligible population, which means only 23,296 people have so far availed of the booster shots.
While the two steel districts of Bokaro and East Singbhum are ahead in the state with 9 per cent and 8 per cent coverage respectively, the remaining 22 districts have covered below 5 per cent of the eligible population.
Sahebganj, in Santhal Pargana along the Bengal border, has achieved zero per cent coverage, as per health department data. “While Sahebganj has innoculated only 90 elders out of its target of 22, 671 people, the calculation is less than even one per cent which is why it is effectively zero,” explained a health department official here.
The official cited a host of reasons for the poor response to booster doses. “Since the elderly are more vulnerable to effects of a season change, the possibility is that many may be battling with some form of winter ailment because of which they aren’t taking the precautionary dose. This apart, many may have contracted Covid-19 in the recent weeks. Lack of manpower in the disticts as many frontline workers have also got infected could be another reason," he said.
Sahebganj civil surgeon Dr Arvind Kumar agreed, but pointed out that vaccine hesitancy was yet another factor for the poor coverage. “In many regions, the elderly aren’t keen on taking a booster shot yet. They want to wait and watch. But we are mapping areas with a substantial population of eligible elders to begin a special drive,” he said.
Another reason, he explained, was the late start to the full-fledged vaccination drive in the district. “Right from the beginning, supply of doses remained erratic for which Sahebganj has been lagging in innoculating adults. We picked up speed only in September last year. So naturally, administering the second dose also got delayed. Hence, most people haven't completed the mandatory 39-week waiting period for the booster shot. The situation will improve drastically from end of January or early February, ” he said.