According to Maharashtra state immunisation officer Dr. Sachin Desai, 65 lakh people registered during the 75-day free special drive to take booster shots, but that’s still just 1 in 5.
When the government offered free Covid booster shots during the 75-day Amrit Mahotsav campaign from July 15 to September 30, over 4 lakh residents of Mumbai accepted the offer.
Overall, 14.3 lakh (or about 15%) of the city’s 92.3 lakh adult residents had already taken the precautionary or third Covid dose.
According to state immunisation officer Dr. Sachin Desai, 65 lakh people registered during the 75-day free special drive.
Less than a fifth (91 lakh or 18%) of the state’s 5 crore eligible individuals have thus far taken the precautionary dose, he continued.
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The Amrit Mahotsav free push for booster shots was announced by the centre in an effort to stimulate adoption, but there has been a muted response nationwide. Dr. Desai observed that “people seem to be negligent about their health.”
Interestingly, even though the free-booster promotion was set to expire on September 30, many people could still reserve a free shot through the Cowin website. “We believe it will continue to be available for free till further orders,” said Dr Desai.
Every adult over the age of 18 is eligible for the booster or preventive doses offered by the Center, but academic experts have argued that only the elderly or those with chronic diseases that lower immunity levels should receive the booster shot. However, according to official statistics on booster shots, barely 30% of older citizens have so far received them.
However, the Center plan did result in an increase in the number of individuals receiving the booster dose in Maharashtra: twice as many individuals received the shot after July 15 when it was made freely available as opposed to earlier. One possible explanation for this is that until the Amrit Mahotsav offer, booster shots were exclusively accessible in private clinics for a charge; no private facility in smaller cities and towns supplied the shot prior to July 15.
According to doctors, the low booster shot uptake is due to the misconception that the pandemic is over. A top BMC official stated, “While Covid may not be a worry in some parts, the World Health Organisation or the Centre hasn’t declared the end of the pandemic.”
According to a doctor, Covid continues to kill people every day and impacts thousands of people. “It is proven that vaccines reduce severity of the disease and the need for hospitalisation,’’ he said.