More than five months into the Covid-19 vaccination programme, half of India’s senior citizens have received at least one dose, which would partially protect them from the virus, health officials said here on Tuesday.
India has an estimated 13.8 crore individuals the age of 60 years and above, of which 49 per cent received at least one dose of the vaccine. The vaccination for this group – considered high risk due to their age – began in February third week marking the second phase of the campaign.
"It's reassuring that 49 per cent of the senior citizens are covered. This category was prioritised and in a vast nation protecting half of our senior citizens is no mean achievement,” V K Paul, member NITI Ayog and the government’s principal advisor on Covid-19 said.
Among those aged 45-59 years, nearly 42 per cent have been vaccinated with one dose whereas 15 per cent of those between 18-44 years received one shot. The estimated population in the two groups is 20.9 crore and 59.7 crore respectively.
Keeping in mind the needs of the senior citizen, the Centre last month permitted creating near-tohome Covid vaccination centres that can be set up in a community centre, RWA centre/office, housing complexes, panchayat ghars, school buildings and old age homes.
“The virus doesn't selectively choose to infect one age group over the other. As long as there are unvaccinated vulnerable groups there is a serious risk of transmission. With emergence of highly transmissible variants such as Delta these concerns are amplified,” Oommen John, a public health researcher at the George Institute for Global Health told DH.
India’s daily vaccination hit a low of 19.69 lakhs doses in May before rising to 40.35 lakh in June. Since June 21 when the new vaccination regime kicked in which the Centre procured 75 per cent of the doses distributed to the states, the average vaccination was more than 57 lakhs doses.
“It is people in the 18-45 age group who are actively engaged in external economic activity and a high proportion of unvaccinated among them is a huge risk. Moreover, in the Indian context those in the 18-44 age are not free of co-morbidities or risk factors that are associated with adverse outcomes,” warned John.
Sharing the vaccination data, Agarwal said there were 17.48 crore male recipients as against 14.99 crore females. Also, more than 54,500 people of “other” genders received the shot.