In Tamil Nadu, over 35% of healthcare/frontline workers had taken the vaccine, Dr. Radhakrishnan said.
With Tamil Nadu all set to go to the polls in a few months, government officials involved in election work would now be included in the priority group of frontline workers for COVID-19 vaccination.
Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan on Monday said the officials who were to be deployed for election work would be regarded as frontline workers.
Registrations this week
“The National Expert Group on Vaccination Administration has issued an advisory for their registration, and we will start the registration of those who will be engaged in poll work this week. They will be vaccinated,” he told reporters at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH), where he received the second dose of Covaxin.
A total of 2,47,372 persons had been vaccinated in the State till date, he said, adding, “On January 16 (the first day of vaccination), 3,126 persons were vaccinated. Of them, 1,154 received the second dose of the vaccine on Saturday.”
He noted that vaccine hesitancy had declined gradually. “Starting with 3,126 persons on the first day, we managed to vaccinate 20,032 persons on Saturday, hitting the 20,000-mark for the first time,” he said. It had been suggested that the number of session sites be increased from 628 to nearly 1,000, he added.
“Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai and Tiruchi have vaccinated more number of people. But we cannot consider these numbers alone. We should also look at how many people are waiting to get vaccinated,” he said, adding that there were a number of places where the vaccine coverage was low.
Vellore and Tiruvarur had 25% coverage, while Tiruvannamalai and Tirunelveli had 28% and 27% coverage, respectively. Tiruvallur had 21% coverage.
“The number is huge in Chennai. Though 30,000 people have been vaccinated, more need to be covered. A micro plan is being drafted for all districts,” he said.
Many, including the elderly and people with co-morbidities, were willing to get vaccinated and had made inquiries, he said. “We have been reiterating this to the Centre. We have already written to them and have also spoken to them over the phone,” he added.
In Tamil Nadu, over 35% of healthcare/frontline workers had taken the vaccine, Dr. Radhakrishnan said. Regarding the second dose, he said that as per the advisory issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), it should be taken on the 28th day. “We need to go by the basis of evidence and research…If there is any change, it would be communicated by ICMR and DCGI,” he said in reference to certain views and articles on the timing of the second dose.
To a question on wastage of vaccine doses, he noted that the World Health Organisation and the National Vaccine Group had stated that up to 10% wastage in a session site was normal. “One vial has 10 doses, and if 98 persons come for vaccination, two doses of 0.5 ml may get wasted,” he said.
“In each site, two to three doses may get wasted…All our deputy directors, joint directors and deans are making efforts to avoid wastage. A few other States have 15% to 20% wastage,” he noted.
However, this was not the challenge, he said, adding, “Each session site has the capacity to vaccinate 100 persons a day. We receive 50 to 60 eligible persons a day. We feel time is being wasted, and have registered this with the Centre. They can open up the vaccination drive to persons who are willing to get inoculated. With the election around the corner, there are many meetings being held, and people are asking for vaccines. Those above 50 years of age and those aged below 50 with co-morbidities can be immunised. If the Centre gives us permission soon, we can achieve the day’s capacity of 100.”
There were sporadic cases of dengue in the State, he said. “People should ensure that there is no mosquito breeding in sumps and water containers like drums, and should clear stagnant water. Check if the overhead tanks are closed. We need to stay alert even if we have only a few cases,” the Health Secretary added.
Director of Medical Education R. Narayana Babu and RGGGH dean E. Theranirajan were present on the occasion.