- After not so enthusiastic response to the first two phases of the vaccination drive, the third phase kick-started recently has received a great impetus what with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the way by getting inoculated early in the morning. The third phase of vaccination for senior citizens and those above 45 years with comorbidities has indeed started on a positive note going by the way the leaders have come forward to provide much-needed momentum to the drive. Ever since the first phase commenced in January, the vaccination drive has not matched up to expectations stuttering along the way covering an extremely minuscule population so far.
- The statistics indicate that Indian health authorities have managed to dispense 14 million doses in 42 days of vaccination as against the cumulative world tally of 240 million doses. As can be seen, the effort here is poor when compared to the phenomenal vaccine manufacturing capacity available with a real risk of getting throttled if the offtake does not improve henceforth. Also, ensuring the vaccination drive reaches out to humongous population density is a tremendous challenge but the opening of centers at neighborhood private hospitals and flexible options for registration like walk-ins can give a big boost.
- Now, the onus is on all elderly Chief Ministers, Union and State Ministers, and opposition leaders/politicians to follow suit sending a message across to dispel vaccine apprehensions and hesitancy. Roping in the celebrities could be a gamechanger further easing the nerves of people who appear to be anxiety-ridden to receive the shot. Allaying fears to assure people to come out in large droves would go a long way in building confidence amongst thousands of fence-sitters to follow suit. The drive should deservingly assume urgency as the seven-day rolling average of confirmed infection cases has shown a steady surge, which is a real cause for concern.
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- Trust the Prime Minister to step in when it matters most and by getting administered Covaxin, which was under greater scrutiny for rolling out without waiting for its Phase 3 trial results causing much dismay, the message is loud and clear about the safety aspects associated with the instant vaccine despite widespread worries. It is significant to note in the context of SII’s Covishield accounting for 90% of doses administered so far as against a mere 10% of Covaxin. Therefore, the PM factor will help to push ahead with the indigenously developed vaccine with renewed vigor. More vaccine options denote more supply to reach out to nook and corner of the country.
- So much is riding on the vaccination strategy which will have a direct bearing on the nation’s economic fortunes. The GDP contraction this financial year requires a phenomenal uptick in the new year to recover lost ground. There is no way other than to press ahead with the vaccination drive to ensure the countrymen stay healthy keeping the virus at bay. The thrust should be to cover at least 70% of the population in the next few months to develop robust immunity. So much is riding on the vaccination drive that could allow the country to bounce back with vengeance.