The first day for the second dose vaccine administration proved disappointing as only 7,688 beneficiaries, who had received the first dose of covid vaccine, showed up to the vaccination booths for their scheduled second shot on Saturday, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informed at a press conference.
Saturday's figures come to just 4 per cent of the beneficiaries who received vaccines on the launch day of the nationwide Covid immunisation drive on January 16 in which 1,91,181 healthcare workers were vaccinated.
The government had asked those beneficiaries who had received their partial immunisation to receive the full dose with the second shot starting Saturday. As per the doses-regimen prescribed for the Covid vaccines, the gap between the two doses is four to six weeks. Around 1,91,181 beneficiaries, who had participated in the vaccination drive on its launch day (January 16), were expected to take the booster dose on Saturday.
The doctors and health experts observed a number of probabilities behind the low turn out on the basis of their interactions and follow-ups with the vaccine beneficiaries.
Reacting on the extremely poor turnout, Sunela Garg, member of the Covid-19 task force in Delhi and advisor to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said that one of the reasons could be hesitancy built after experiencing adverse reactions following the first dose.
"Many have reported adverse reactions following immunisation. While it is natural to experience them post vaccination, the impacts they had made the beneficiaries hesitant to go for the second round of inoculation," she told IANS.
Garg said that follow-up with such beneficiaries and motivation will eventually help in drawing them back to the vaccination booths.
B.L. Sherwal, medical director at Delhi government-run Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital, told IANS that the falling trajectory of new Covid cases and deaths have created a psyche among the people, including the healthcare workers, that the pandemic is over and they do not need vaccines to raise immunity against it.
"The current Covid-19 situation has improved tremendously from the crisis we witnessed in the final months of 2020 when the national capital took repetitive blows of surge in cases and fatalities. It has impacted the mindset of the people who now think why take the pain of vaccination when the disease is over," he said.
Meanwhile, the overall vaccination coverage also fell exponentially on Saturday. The Health Ministry's data collected till 6 pm showed that 80,847 people got vaccinated on Saturday, which is less than one-third of the previous day's figures. Around 2,61,309 beneficiaries took vaccine shots on Friday.
Suresh Kumar, director, Lok Nayak Hospital, New Delhi, said that the figures were low since many government institutions were on weekly off Saturday. "Even in our hospital, many did not turn up for vaccination since we observe half working day on Saturdays," he added.
However, Kumar assured that the figures will rise again from Monday.
Meanwhile, the cumulative figures of vaccination have crossed 8 million to 80,52,454. Of them, 59,35,275 beneficiaries were healthcare workers while 21,17,179 doses were inoculated to the frontline workers.
The vaccination of healthcare workers started on January 16, while the frontline workers started receiving the vaccine shots from February 2 onwards.