After nearly exhausting its supply of vaccines, J&K has received a stock of 3 lakh vaccines in two batches. However, with 34.3 lakh people aged over 45 years, 27 lakh more doses are awaited to ensure full coverage of the Phase-3 target.
Official data on vaccination drive in J&K reveals that 9.8 lakh citizens aged 45 years and up had been administered the first dose of CovidShield vaccine in J&K till Friday. The vaccination for the general population in this age group started on 01 April. In the two weeks gone by, many districts have witnessed a massive increase in the uptake of vaccines as per figures. In addition, 2.45 lakh frontline workers and 90,000 healthcare workers had also received their first doses. A proportion among all these groups had also been given the second dose of the vaccine, the data revealed. The cumulative doses administered in J&K stood at 15.5 lakh doses.
With vaccines in high demand, J&K had reached the bottom of its stock last week. However, a senior official said that 3 lakh vaccines have been received recently, adequate to keep the vaccination drive running for now. "We received 1.5 lakh doses on 14 April and 1.5 lakh more on 16 April," he said. Despite this stock, the worries of the department do not seem to be over. The official said the health department has estimated a requirement of 27 lakh more doses to be able to cover the target of 28 percent population that falls in the age group of 45 years and above as per Census 2011. He said many people were concerned whether they would be able to get the second shot of the vaccine given the paucity amidst demand. "Many don't want to be left in lurch after the first dose and are avoiding vaccination," the official said.
However, Director General Health and Family Welfare and Immunization, Dr Saleem ur Rehman said J&K was receiving a regular supply of vaccines. "We have a stock of 2.5 lakh vaccines and the drive is running very well," he said. He said that on the first day of the month of Ramadhan, there was "slight dip" in numbers but picked up on the second and third day. "We had over 40,000 people getting the shot on Friday itself," he said. Dr Rehman said the health department had consulted a number of religious scholars and they were of unanimous opinion that taking a vaccine shot does not invalidate fasting. "Many of them have issued public statements as well," he said.
Asked about the concern of not being able to get the second shot, he said, "Some vaccination is better than no vaccination." He said enough stock of vaccines was currently available and there was "no need to panic". "One dose of vaccine will also protect people from getting very sick with SARS-CoV2 but two is better and we are ensuring that everyone gets that," he said.