Hyderabad: The targeted intervention of administering Covid vaccines to the most vulnerable and high-risk groups in Telangana has been a cornerstone of the State government’s response to the Covid pandemic. While the new Covid vaccine policy came into effect across the country on Monday, Telangana perhaps remains the only State that has adopted a measured, practical, and logical approach of vaccinating individuals who need them the most, instead of opting for mass vaccination at a time when vaccine availability is bogged down by supply-chain constraints.
On Monday, when many Indian States exhausted their limited vaccine stock by taking up mass vaccination, health authorities in Telangana focused on channelling the vaccines to members of Self-Help Groups (SHGs), who form a vital link among individuals in the community across the State.
“We too can exhaust our entire vaccine stockpile in a day by vaccinating everybody. What will happen to the vaccination drive when we run out of stocks the next day? The new vaccine policy has come into force, but so far there is no change or improvement in the allotment of vaccines to the States, as it would take some more time. In this situation, mass vaccinating people blindly makes no sense,” says Director of Public Health (DPH) Dr G Srinivasa Rao.
Instead of opening vaccination for all age groups, the strategy of prioritising vaccination in Telangana is guided by logistics and epidemiological data. Opening all fronts simultaneously will drain human and other resources and would be spreading the resources too thin to make an impact at the population level, senior doctors here point out.
“We are vaccinating individuals between 18 years and 44 years for free in Telangana. The only difference is that at present, we don’t want to utilise vaccines indiscriminately. Instead, we are employing strategies to derive maximum benefit in a cost-effective way,” Dr Rao said.
Senior health officials who are liaising with the Centre on the issue of vaccine availability said that the situation of vaccines is expected to improve in July. “The Centre has informed us that in July, the availability of Covishield will improve and by August availability of Covaxin will improve. They (Centre) are expecting at least three crore vaccine doses in July,” health officials here said.
Officials also pointed out that mutations of SARS-CoV-2 pose a threat. “At this moment, it is unlikely that mass vaccination of all adults will catch up with the speed with which the mutations are happening. Before the third wave hits Telangana, all the high-risk groups must be vaccinated, so that vital transmission chains are broken and the third wave is weakened,” authorities explained.
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