Thiruvananthapuram: Even as the phase two of the mass COVID-19 vaccination programme has commenced in India, several among the priority sections eligible under the first phase are still to be given the shots. As the backlog would have to be cleared, the vaccination of people above 60 years and those above 45 years having chronic illnesses who are eligible in the second phase for the two doses may get delayed further.
The priority sections for the vaccination are healthcare workers and police personnel who are in the frontlines of the fight against the viral pandemic that has struck the world since early last year.
The first vaccination dose has to be given to 25,000 health workers who could not register themselves and also the second dose for the healthcare staff and frontline workers who have already received the first one.
The first phase of COVID-19 vaccination in India began on January 16, 2021 and the second round on March 1. It is estimated that about 10 crore people are eligible for the second phase and those interested need to register on the portal (https://www.cowin.gov.in/) and book their appointment.
But the timely registration and allotment of vaccination time are getting delayed now as people above 60 years and those with chronic illnesses try to register on the dedicated portal along with the pending frontline personnel. Complaints of glitches are blamed on the large number of people trying to access the site at the same time.
The vaccination drive is expected to pick up pace as the central government has allowed vaccinations at all government and private hospitals where the state wishes to open vaccination centres.
The District Medical Officers have been asked to expedite the inspection and other procedures in private hospitals.
Meanwhile, several Kerala ministers received the vaccine in the last two days.
Coverage of polling officers
The authorities have meanwhile directed to complete the two rounds of vaccination for 3.8 lakh officials to be deployed for election duties by March 6. So far only half of the poll officials have received the vaccine.
As the vaccine-makers claim that immunity against COVID-19 will develop only 14 days after a person takes the two doses in an interval of 28 days, many polling officers would be still uncovered or susceptible to the disease as they take up duties for the April 6 election in Kerala.
However, doctors at the health department said that immunity starts developing after the first dose itself.