The state government has asked all districts to increase the number of vaccination centres in order to ramp up daily vaccination numbers. Nine districts – Sangli, Parbhani, Buldhana, Aurangabad, Pune, Kolhapur, Yavatmal, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg – recorded less than 30 per cent vaccine coverage by the third week of the vaccination drive, data presented last week in a state meeting shows. This is less than the state’s overall coverage at 44.8 per cent.
From next week, the state will begin administering second doses to health workers. “We will get more vaccines by next week,” said state immunisation officer Dr D N Patil. From 285 vaccination sites, Maharashtra is now holding 655 sites, with a target of each site to vaccinate 100 people daily. By next week, 100-150 more sites will be added to improve daily figures.
In Sangli, where the coverage remains lowest, until February 4, of 34,499 registered health workers, 8,525 (24.7 per cent) have been vaccinated. The district was asked to improve its numbers. Dr Vivek Patil, from the district health office, said the vaccination drive was hindered last week for four days due to the polio vaccination campaign. “Several government health workers were on field in rural areas for pulse polio vaccination. For four days, we could not hold sessions for them,” Patil said. Sangli held a special Covid vaccination camp on Friday and Saturday and managed to touch 13,295 vaccinations (38 per cent). Its coverage, however, still remains lower than state average.
Patil said the state has advised them to increase the number of vaccinators since only 100 people can be administered dose in a shift by a vaccinator.
District officials said vaccine hesitancy does not seem to yield into a low turnout, instead in several cases text messages for vaccine appointment are not delivered to health workers leading to communication problems. “The Co-WIN software was not able to create a session of all 100 people scheduled for a day in a particular centre. We faced this issue for a few days and conveyed it to the state government. That is a reason for low coverage in our district,” said Dr Mahesh Khalipe, district health officer in Sindhudurg, which has vaccinated 3,955 people till now.
As per state records, there are 10.54 lakh frontline workers and so far 5.47 lakh have been registered on Co-WIN portal, but more workers are slated to be added. In total, 4.72 lakh people have been vaccinated. “We already have crossed more than 600 vaccination sites. We will add 100-150 more next week. With these many sites, coverage will increase. We now have to manage giving second dosage to health workers. From next week, several will finish the 28-day period and start coming for a second dose,” Patil said.
In Aurangabad, the turnout for both vaccines — Covaxin and Covishield — is low. Each day of 100 people scheduled for Covaxin, only 20-30 per cent turn up. District officials said from February 4 when 26.2 per cent health workers were covered for both vaccines, the coverage has improved to 34.1 per cent this week after increasing vaccination sites. The district has covered vaccination of 13,741 health workers so far.
In Mumbai’s JJ hospital, too, where Covaxin take-up is relatively low, Dr Lalit Sankhe, in-charge of vaccination, said the state has advised them to increase vaccinators. “The plan is to scale up from 100 to 200 people a day,” he said.
Maximum number of vaccinations were held on February 5, when 42,609 health workers were vaccinated. Before that on January 27, 42,608 people were vaccinated. Maharashtra received a stock of 19.72 lakh doses, of them over 5 lakh have been used till now. At least 4.68 lakh have been administered Covishield and 4,601 Covaxin.