Even as 6 in every 10 deaths daily due to Covid-19 infection belong to the 60-plus age group in Odisha, the vaccine hesitancy in the State seems to be higher than the national average.
As per the data available with Union Health Ministry, as of Feb 8, 2022, a high of around 6.55 lakh in the age group of 60 years or above had missed the second dose in the State. And over 4.73 lakh were yet to take the vaccine.
The data further shows that despite the lapsing of nearly a year (senior citizen vaccination started on March 1), over 9 percent in Odisha didn't turn up to take their shots in the arm. More so, over 12 percent are not bothered to get fully inoculated.
The discouraging tendency among the elderly population in the State has made Odisha cut a sorry figure on the national map. The national average of 60+ years in the country who haven't turned up to date to get vaccinated has been around 8.7 percent (for dose 1) and 12 percent (for dose 2).
Odisha Vs Neighbour States
A glance at the data available reveals that vaccine hesitancy in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh is very low nationally. Only the states of West Bengal and Jharkhand have a poor vaccination rate.
In Bihar and Chhattisgarh, nearly 10.8 percent of the elderly populace have not taken the complete dossage. The proportion in Andhra Pradesh stands at a mere 4 percent.
Only 7 percent of the elderly population have not turned up to the vaccination camp as of Feb 8, 2022 in Bihar. The proportion in Chhattisgarh stood at 9.2 percent.
On the contrary, a high of 23 percent of 60+ years have failed to get fully immunised as of Feb 8, 2022. And the proportion in West Bengal stood at over 13 percent.
Poor Vaccination Rate And Death Rate
A detailed glance at the data reveals that while between Feb 1- Feb 12, Odisha had recorded a high of 233 deaths, neighbour Chhattisgarh registered 132 deaths.
The death rate in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh is very low. The daily deaths are in single digits there. in contrast, the death rate in West Bengal is comparatively higher.
An AIIMS, New Delhi study had earlier revealed that a rise in vaccination rate in the country had greatly reduced the mortality rate in the country in the third wave as against the second wave deaths.
The data with Odisha Health Department further shows that around 10 percent of nearly 140 deaths in the age group of 60 + years recorded during the last two weeks of Feb in Odisha have no co-morbidities.
The WHO Forecast
In the backdrop of high vaccine hesitancy in the State, the forecast of a more infectious variant after Omicron by WHO technical head Mari Van Kerkhova sounds an alarm bell for the State. Because such a large unvaccinated population in the vulnerable group will provide a favourable lab for the virus to mutate to a dangerous variant of concern. Time for the Odisha Health Department to launch a mission mode campaign.