Covid vaccination: Survey key to identifying vulnerable

Covid vaccination: Survey key to identifying vulnerable

NCD has only data of those people who come to its NCD clinics or those who get diagnosed in population-based screening

Representative image. Credit: Reuters Photo

The door-to-door survey done by Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) that the Karnataka government began months into the pandemic, can offer a crucial database required for Covid vaccination of senior citizens and those with co-morbidities -  the second and third group of people the government wants to immunise after healthcare workers and Covid frontline workers.

The non-communicable diseases (NCD) wing of the state health department has only data of those people who come to its NCD clinics or those who get diagnosed in population-based screening.

A total of 3,56,316 people have been diagnosed with diabetes from 2017 to October this year at the NCD clinics in the state.

Another 25,967 diabetics were identified in its population-based screening from 2017 to October this year. But the data is not exhaustive. Granular door-to-door data will come in handy for identifying priority groups for mass inoculation.

For example, according to data submitted to the chief secretary for review, as on December 4, out of the 2,11,096 households surveyed in Bengaluru Rural, 92,902 households has senior citizens. Out of these, 26,476 households have an elderly person with high BP, diabetes and cardiac problems.

According to the containment zone survey, as many as 7,413 households’ survey has been completed out of which 1,602 households have senior citizens.

Out of these, 597 have an elderly person with high BP, diabetes and cardiac problems.

Virologist Dr Shahid Jameel told DH, “It will be challenging to identify these priority groups, but not impossible. If I think I have a comorbidity that puts me at increased risk, I could register myself for getting the vaccine. But the onus of providing the proof that I have that comorbidity lies on me. It would have been really beneficial if the country had an electronic medical record system. Unfortunately, we don’t have that, at least not fully.”

Vaccine scientist and microbiologist Dr Gagandeep Kang told DH getting straightforward age records for the elderly might be a challenge while identifying priority groups.

“People in the country don’t have a birth certificate or accurate age information. Fraud and forgery are all concerns there.”

“A black market of medical certificates can emerge that this person has diabetes or hypertension. The government needs to clearly spell out that this will be the approach and strong measures need to be put in place demonstrating how the logistics of giving the vaccine to different priority groups is going to be arranged.”