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September 30 booster deadline

The deadline was significant because the 75-day period for which the Centre is providing free Covid jabs for all recipients above the age of 18 would end on that day
Representational image.
Representational image.
File photo

Snehamoy Chakraborty   |   Calcutta   |   Published 21.08.22, 01:47 AM

The Bengal government on Saturday set September 30 as a deadline for all Bengal districts, including Calcutta, to complete the vaccination of approximately four crore eligible persons yet to receive their booster dose.

Sources said that the deadline was significant because the 75-day period for which the Centre is providing free Covid jabs for all recipients above the age of 18 would end on September 30.

Before the Centre opened up free precautionary doses to all recipients above 18 years, the state administered 45 lakh jabs to those above 60 years of age and frontline workers.

“The pace of vaccination, especially for booster doses, is not satisfactory. We want all eligible people whose booster dose is due to be vaccinated before Durga Puja. We are not sure whether the Centre will extend its window for free vaccines,” said a senior health official.

On Saturday afternoon, state health secretary Narayan Swarup Nigam, along with senior health officials in Calcutta, held a video-conference with the chief medical officers of Bengal districts where they directed to complete the task of administering booster doses to all eligible persons within September 30 by increasing the number of daily vaccinations.

Sources said there were around 5.5 crore people eligible for the booster or precautionary dose in Bengal. The state had recorded only 1,26,57,638 booster doses till Saturday evening. In Bengal, 7,34,03,778 and 6,62,77,267 people have been administered the first and second doses of Covid vaccines, respectively, as of Saturday.

A section of health officials, however, said the task given to them was “next to impossible” as a "large number" of people were reluctant to take the booster dose despite awareness campaigns.

“There are over 60 lakh people who are yet to take the second dose of Covid vaccines. As Covid cases has declined, people have lost their interest in vaccines. So it is a tough task for us to meet the deadline,” said the chief medical officer of a south Bengal district.

“There are only 40 days in hand, and if we want to complete the task of administering booster doses to four crore people, we have to vaccinate 10 lakh people a day. It won’t be an easy task,” he added.

Presently, the state is vaccinating an average of three lakh people a day and in the case of public holidays the number is reportedly too thin. On Saturday, the state recorded 1,06,384 administered doses.

After the Centre announced free booster doses for all above 18 years, the state government headed by chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi held a meeting at state secretariat Nabanna and asked all health officials, including in districts, to involve NGOs, clubs and gram panchayats to motivate people to get their booster doses as soon as possible.



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