Since the first phase of the Covid vaccination drive started in Punjab on January 16, the state has managed to vaccinate just 37.40 per cent of the registered healthcare workers till Tuesday.
In the second phase of the vaccination drive too, which started on February 2 for frontline workers (police, sanitation workers, MC employees, defence, paramilitary personnel etc)– there hasn’t been any overwhelming response in Punjab with just 18.33 per cent of the registered frontline workers getting vaccinated till Tuesday.
Meanwhile, just a little over 2,000 healthcare workers got the second dose of the vaccine in Punjab (out of those who got the first dose) in two days since Monday, as per the latest data.
According to the official figures, of the registered 2.05 lakh healthcare workers in Punjab, just 76,679, translating to 37.40%, have got vaccinated till Tuesday. Healthcare workers in Punjab still have a chance to get the first dose till February 19, said Dr GB Singh, director health, Punjab. Of those healthcare workers who got the first dose, just 2,010 received second dose till Tuesday. Punjab started administering second dose to healthcare workers (who got the first dose) from Monday.
Till now, Punjab has administered Covid vaccine to a total of 1,09,778 beneficiaries (healthcare and frontline workers combined), only.
Senior health officials in Punjab say that the only reason they can underline for the low vaccination numbers in the state was ‘hesitancy’ among the healthcare and frontline workers.
“Hesitancy and apprehensions regarding the vaccine… even among the healthcare workers, is probably the only reason for the low response in Punjab. We are trying our best to encourage healthcare and frontline workers to shun hesitancy and get themselves vaccinated but then we can say only till a limit. It is one’s personal choice and decision,” said Dr GB Singh. He added that the response from the frontline workers was not any better than healthcare workers. “We can only say that it is the hesitancy and apprehensions that are not letting employees come forward and get themselves vaccinated,” he said.
Dr Rajiv Bhaskar, nodal officer for Covid, Punjab, said that the number of healthcare workers who registered for vaccination has increased from 1.74 lakh to 2.04 lakh and thus the deadline for them to get first dose has been extended to February 19. “The second phase of vaccination for frontline workers is till March 5. We are trying to encourage health workers, both in government as well as private sector, to get vaccinated,” said Dr Bhaskar.
As per the data that was released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW) Tuesday, 85.16 lakh doses of Covid vaccine have been administered across the country of which Punjab has achieved 1.07 lakh doses only.
This is way less than several other states and UTs which have performed better than Punjab, including Andhra Pradesh (3.69 lakh), Assam (1.31 lakh), Bihar (4.94 lakh), Chhattisgarh (2.74 lakh), Delhi (1.93 lakh), Gujarat (6.97 lakh), J&K (1.47 lakh), Jharkhand (2.20 lakh), Karnataka (5.10 lakh), Madhya Pradesh (5.67 lakh), Maharashtra (6.96 lakh), Odisha (4.17 lakh), Rajasthan (6.12 lakh), Uttar Pradesh (9.11 lakh) and West Bengal (5.32 lakh).
Among Punjab’s neighboring states- Haryana too has achieved 2 lakh doses (more than Punjab), while Himachal Pradesh has achieved 81,957 doses (less than Punjab). UT Chandigarh has administered 9,356 doses only, as per the MoH&FW data.
A total of 33,099 frontline workers got vaccinated in Punjab till Tuesday of 1.80 lakh registered (18.33 per cent). Dr Bhaskar said that the number of frontline workers might go up with the registrations for it still ongoing.
On the states such as Bihar, UP, Gujarat, Delhi, MP, Haryana etc performing better than Punjab, Dr GB Singh said, “Hesitation is the only reason I can pinpoint.. Sometimes it is even more difficult to convince educated persons regarding something very new like Covid vaccine.”