COVID-19 Vaccination: Should you get the jab?
Despite the government efforts in driving home the facts about the Covid-19 vaccination, many in the country are still doubtful about the vaccine and are reluctant to get the vaccination. In view of it, the Union Health Ministry reiterated the primary objectives of launching the vaccination in India and explained why one should get the jab.
The Central government has been providing support to states and Union territories in India for effective management of Covid vaccination since its launch on January 16, 2021. It has been pushing for COVID-19 vaccination of its over 1.4 billion with the two vaccines - Covishield and Covaxin - approved for emergency use in India by the regulatory body in January 2021. The two vaccines approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) are manufactured by Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech. The third vaccine - Russian Sputnik V - was launched in India recently. Following the launch of the vaccines, the government explained the objective as to prevent Covid deaths.
Before the launch of the vaccines, the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) was set up in August 2020 to provide guidance on all aspects of vaccine introduction, including prioritization of beneficiaries, procurement, vaccine selection and its delivery.
In India, the priority of beneficiaries for COVID-19 vaccination has been done based on the review of available scientific evidence, guidelines proposed by WHO, global examples and practices followed in other countries with the focus on reducing mortality rate due to COVID-19 infection, the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry explained.
Despite the government efforts in driving home the facts about the Covid-19 vaccination, many in the country are still doubtful about the vaccine and are reluctant to get the vaccination. In view of it, the Union Health Ministry reiterated the primary objectives of launching the vaccination in India and explained why one should get the jab:
1. Protecting the Healthcare and Frontline workers and thereby the Pandemic response system.
2. Preventing deaths due to COVID-19 and protecting individuals at highest risk and vulnerability of mortality due to disease.
Accordingly, the vaccination drive in the country has been sequentially expanded to cover the prioritized groups starting with Healthcare Workers (HCWs) on January 16, 2021, followed by Front Line Workers (FLWs) from February 2, persons aged 60 years and above and those aged 45-59 years with identified 20 co-morbidities were covered from March 1. Subsequently, from April 1, all persons aged 45 years and above are eligible for vaccination, the ministry stated in a PIB release.
With this approach, more than 90 per cent of the 1st dose coverage amongst registered HCWs and around 84 per cent coverage of 1st dose amongst registered FLWs have been achieved, thereby protecting those involved in providing Healthcare Services, Surveillance and Containment activities amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry stated.
The Phase-III of COVID-19 vaccination began on May 1, wherein all citizens aged 18 years and above are eligible for vaccination.
A ‘Liberalised Pricing and Accelerated National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy’ was adopted on May 1. This strategy aims at incentivizing the vaccine manufacturers to ramp up the vaccine production and attract new manufacturers. This will augment the vaccine production resulting in wider availability of vaccines resulting in flexibility in pricing, procurement and administration of vaccines ultimately resulting in improved coverage of vaccination, the ministry added.
As of date, India is using three vaccines against COVID-19 in its immunization drive, including two made-in-India vaccines - Serum Institute of India’s Covishield and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin who have supplied about 7.92 crore vaccine doses in the month of May 2021
The Centre said the manufacturing capacities of these vaccines have been ramped up. However, vaccines being a biological product takes time for harvesting and quality testing. This cannot be done overnight to ensure a safe product. Thus, an increase in manufacturing capacity too needs to be a guided process.
The third vaccine, Russian Sputnik V, was recently approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for restricted use in emergency situations and is being used in a few private hospitals which are expected to be increased over the coming days.
The Centre also said that the Government of India, through NEGVAC, is doing regular interaction with national and international vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer, Moderna etc. to make the COVID-19 vaccines available in the country. Covid-19 vaccination in India has so far covered 200 million people in 130 days, the third largest coverage in the world, the ministry added.
Earlier too, the NITI Aayog had busted myths surrounding the COVID-19 Vaccination - India’s COVID-19 Vaccination Process: As doubts persist, government clarifies