Nearly half of the active COVID19 cases in Kashmir currently are concentrated in Srinagar, while the district has one of the lowest vaccinated populations in J&K, a trend doctors fear could prove disastrous.
No vaccinations have taken place in Srinagar district since Thursday due to unavailability of the vaccine stock. The break in vaccination drive due to supply exhaustion is worrying many doctors here.
“The vaccination had just started to pick up in Srinagar, after months of hesitancy. And suddenly, our sites have run dry,” said a senior medico working in GMC Srinagar. He said many of his elderly patients had agreed to get vaccinated after the recent spurt in cases. “For months, all the hoarse cries for vaccination fell onto deaf ears,” he said.
Srinagar has performed the worst in the vaccination drive that started in January. As per the data released by the Government, only 28 percent of people aged 45 years and above have received their first doses. That leaves 72 percent of the elderly population without even a single dose of vaccine, and vulnerable to SARS-CoV2. The virus has been seen to affect the elderly population the most – with more severe symptoms and high mortality both. The vaccine, doctors feel, could have safeguarded this high risk group “to a large extent”.
Many among the 28 percent that have received the vaccine are due for their second doses, doctors said. However, vaccine shortage is set to delay that further. “Even in our 28 percent, only half the protection is available as one dose is still pending,” a senior public health expert said.
Srinagar district is the worst affected one in the entire J&K given the high caseload. On Saturday, the district had 8872 active cases, 46 percent of the 19171 total of Kashmir division. This implies, in the past two weeks, nearly 9000 people have been confirmed to be infected with the respiratory virus.
The cumulative 35104 cases of Srinagar are nearly 40 percent of the cumulative 88578 confirmed in Kashmir from the beginning of the pandemic. Srinagar has recorded the death of 546 of its residents in the past one year.
A number of doctors that the Greater Kashmir spoke to have appealed that vaccines be made available to people in adequate stock. They have also urged people to come forward and get vaccinated. “It is the best protection that we know till date,” Dr Naveed Nazir Shah, head department of Chest Medicine at GMC Srinagar said.
Dr S Saleem Khan, head department of Community Medicine at GMC Srinagar said vaccination was “absolutely safe”. “Any vaccine, from any manufacturer is far better than no vaccine at all,” he said.