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Uptick in Covid vaccine demand

Majority are queuing up for third dose: Hospitals

Sanjay Mandal | Published 03.05.22, 07:55 AM
Covid booster dose being administered

Covid booster dose being administered

File picture

More people are queuing up for Covid vaccination than a fortnight before. However, the number is still nowhere near what it used to be when the first dose was being administered in 2021, said officials of several private hospitals.

The hospitals said the weekends are especially busy. About 70 per cent of the recipients are in the age group of 18 to 59, who are queueing up for the precautionary third dose, or the booster dose.

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All adults have been eligible for the precautionary dose since April 10, following a notification from the Centre, provided they have completed nine months from the second dose.

Hospitals said the footfall for the Covid shot, which had dipped sharply, started picking up from the last week of April.

“We have seen a rise in the number of vaccine recipients since the end of April. One of the main reasons is that many of those in the age group of 18 to 59 have completed nine months since the second dose. Also, only private facilities are allowed to administer the precautionary dose (to people below 60),” said Rupak Barua, group CEO, AMRI Hospitals.  

Each of the three hospitals under the group — in Dhakuria, Salt Lake and Mukundapur — is administering between 100 and 125 doses daily. On weekends, Barua said, the count is going up further.

For Tuesday, a holiday because of Id, each of the three hospitals had more than 125 bookings by Monday evening.

Towards the middle of 2021, the AMRI group was administering more than 7,000 doses daily. The count dropped to around 50 in March and the first part of April this year.

Barua said the hospital still has 5,000 doses of Covishield and 11,000 doses of Covaxin.

“The Covaxin doses will expire this month but the manufacturer, Bharat Biotech, has promised to exchange those with fresh doses,” he said.

Peerless Hospital, too, is seeing a similar trend. The hospital last year was having a vaccine footfall of around 800 every day. It dipped to around 20 in March this year. Now the footfall has gone up again to more than 300 a day.

“We have seen a sudden rise in vaccination since the last week of April. The number is touching 300 on the weekends,” said Sudipta Mitra, chief executive of Peerless Hospital.

However, some other hospitals said the footfall was still not enough to exhaust their stock.

“The vaccination numbers had gone down to between 30 and 40 daily. It has since gone up to around 130 on the weekdays and more than 200 on weekends. However, we need to administer at least 400 doses every day to exhaust the stock,” said R. Venkatesh, regional director, east, Narayana Health, of which the RN Tagore hospital is the flagship unit.

Pradip Tondon, CEO of Belle Vue Clinic, said the hospital would not order fresh stocks anytime soon.

“If the stocks are exhausted and there is still demand for Covid vaccines, we can buy doses from other hospitals, which are saddled with excess stocks, too,” he said.

Last updated on 03.05.22, 08:38 AM
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