Bengal govt's aim: 5.43 crore jabs in 75 days
The Bengal government is gearing up to administer within 75 days the precautionary Covid-19 dose to all 5.43 crore eligible people who are yet to receive the third jab by setting up more vaccination centres and engaging NGOs, people’s representatives and faith-based organisations.
“Before the Centre opened up free precautionary doses to all above 18 years, the state had administered 45 lakh such jabs to those above 60 and frontline workers. Now, we have set a target to administer the third or precautionary dose to the remaining 5,43,67,641 eligible people within 75 days,” an official said.
The state government has decided to engage NGOs, people’s representatives and faith-based organisations to encourage people to take the precautionary dose.
While the government is creating the infrastructure to administer the precautionary doses, it is aware of the challenge as more than 60 lakh people are yet to receive the second jab.
“It has been observed that some people are not interested in getting vaccinated. As a result, over 60 lakh people are yet to take the second vaccine dose. This time, the state government does not want to take any chances and that’s why all kinds of organisations are being involved in the drive,” said another official.
Sources said that the state government was heavily banking on the precautionary dose as the booster shot can prevent progression to severe disease and reduce hospitalisation rates.
“Nowadays, 3,000-odd positive cases are being reported everyday but only 737 people are hospitalised at the moment. The picture was completely different during the first three waves when many more people were not vaccinated. During the first three waves, 18,000 hospital beds were not enough to accommodate the positive cases,” said an official.
On Saturday, chief secretary H.K. Dwivedi held a meeting with health department officials and pointed out that more vaccination centres have to be set up to complete the administration of precautionary doses within 75 days, the period for which the Centre is offering them for free.
“He also laid stress on strict compliance of Covid-19 norms, including wearing of masks in public places.
The government wants to ensure that the number of positive cases does not rise alarmingly. The government cannot afford another lockdown-like situation here,” said a source.
A section of officials said that if the government can complete administering the booster doses at the earliest, it might not need to spend heavily on increasing Covid-19 treatment infrastructure again.
“Given the financial crisis the state is facing, it might not be possible to requisition private hospitals once again. Moreover, the government had also spent a large amount to provide free treatment to Covid-19 patients during the first three waves. Now, it is tough for the state to shoulder a huge burden on this head again,” said a source.
Calcutta: Bengal on Saturday reported 2,839 new Covid-19 infections, 2,263 recoveries and six deaths, the highest fatality toll recorded in Bengal in several months. Currently, there are 30,613 active cases in the state.: 29,921 in home isolation and 692 in hospitals, according to the state bulletin.
The state's positive recovery rate was 97.49% and mortality rate 1.03% on Saturday when 15,728 samples were tested. The case positivity rate stood at 18.05%.
Since the pandemic broke out in 2020, the state has recorded 20,68,199 cases, of which 20,16, 315 have made full recoveries. 21,271 fatalities have been recorded in the state so far. In light of the recent uptick in cases, booster doses being administered in the state have also increased. 46,68,117 booster doses have been administered in Bengal so far. 3,43,120 were administered in Bengal on Saturday. Amid rising Covid cases, healthcare professionals have started advocating for a second booster shot for those involved in medicine.
The state government has also issued a formal advisory saying that only fully vaccinated or asymptomatic persons should attend public gatherings in light of rising case numbers. Mask mandates and thermal screening too have made a comeback at public and private establishments.