Vaccination against COVID-19 for healthcare workers will come to a close on February 22, after which they will be moved to the general public category and will be relegated to the age-appropriate group in it.
The COVID-19 vaccination drive was launched in the State on January 16 with two vaccines — Covishield and Covaxin.
In 23 days, around 1.7 lakh healthcare workers, the first among the priority group, received the first dose of the vaccines across the State. This was against 5.5 lakh healthcare workers who were already registered on the Co-WIN portal, according to the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.
Issuing instructions to Deputy Directors of Health Services (DDHS), Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine T.S. Selvavinayagam, in a circular dated February 9, said as per instructions of the government, vaccination for health workers was going to be closed on February 20. All Deputy Directors were directed to conduct the mop-up for unvaccinated healthcare workers on February 21 and 22.
“It is also emphasised that after the due date on February 22, unvaccinated healthcare workers will move to the general public group and relegated to the age appropriate category in the group. The above fact is to be informed to all healthcare workers appropriately,” he said in the circular. They were told to call the State health helpline, 104, for clarifications.
Considering the Centre’s instructions to complete the drive before February 20 for unvaccinated healthcare workers, all DDHS have been instructed to make arrangements for immunisation of unvaccinated health staff, registered/unregistered in the Co-WIN portal in their respective districts, as per a prescribed schedule.
As per the schedule to cover unvaccinated health staff, they will be inoculated as per the alphabetical order of their names, from Thursday to February 20, at all government medical college hospitals, government hospitals, upgraded primary health centres and urban primary health centres in their districts. This will be followed by a two-day mop-up campaign. They can get inoculated at the approved sites. DDHS have been asked to ensure that they get vaccinated before the closing date and to maintain a filled-in register, in the prescribed template, for vaccination of unregistered health workers separately for uploading in the Co-WIN portal later.
An official said many were refusing to take the vaccines. “Decline in cases is a reason. The fear of contracting the infection is down now. Many also feel that the vaccines were not tested adequately. There is a lack of confidence,” he said.