Telangana resumes vaccination after break of 10 days, but vaccine supply still remains a big concern

Published : May 26, 2021 11:24 IST

At the Urban Primary Health Centre at Koti in Hyderabad, people wait for the second dose of vaccine on May 25. Photo: NAGARA GOPAL

After a 10-day lull, Telangana relaunched its COVID-19 vaccination programme on May 25. Just over 50,000 people, the majority of whom were awaiting their second shot, were vaccinated on that day. Fewer than 600 were administered their first shot.

There are still over 2,50,000 people who are scheduled to take their second shot of Covaxin vaccine before the month end. Officials said the State had just around 1,50,000 Covaxin doses. The increase in the interval between two Covishield doses has resulted in very few in the State awaiting their second shot of the vaccine.

Telangana was forced to halt its vaccination drive on May 10 following a severe shortage of vaccines. Until then it had administered a total of 55,86,158 vaccines, 48,05,075 of them Covishield and 7,80,727 Covaxin. Initially, the government announced a two-day stoppage of its vaccination programme, but with no doses arriving from the Union Health Ministry, the State was forced to extend the stoppage. It also had to put on hold the second dose for persons above 45 years of age.

Officials told Frontline that Telangana had purchased directly from Bharat Biotech around 92,000 doses of Covaxin meant for the 18 to 44 age group. But, with thousands in the over 45-age group awaiting their second Covaxin shot, Telangana is unsure if it can administer these doses to this category of people. The moot question is whether the Centre, which is handing out vaccine doses free to States for people aged 45 years and above, will reimburse Telangana if the doses it procured directly from the manufacturer were to be used for the 45 years and above category.

The government is also hoping to vaccinate what it has categorised as “superspreaders”, a group that includes shop keepers, LPG/gas suppliers, drivers (auto/cab), street vendors, delivery boys (e commerce), and postal and bank employees. Estimates are that there are over 2,00,000 people in this category. Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao has directed Finance Minister T. Harish Rao to prepare fresh guidelines to identify the “superspreaders’ and organise vaccination camps for them.

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