The report that Bhubaneswar has been the first city in India to have vaccinated 100 per cent of its citizens against Covid-19 is travelling fast and wide. Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) reportedly had set a goal of total vaccination of its population by July 31. By this date, the BMC spokesman said they had administered the second jab to 9,07,000 people of 18 years of age and above, including around 31,000 health workers, 33,000 frontline workers, 5,17,000 people between 18-45 years of age and 3,20,000 above 45 years. Few in Bhubaneswar, however, noted a report in the Indian Express dated July 25, 2021, which spoke about the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan saying that all people of 18 years of age and above had been vaccinated against Covid 19 in Khajuraho town. He referred to the consequent optimism of tourism industry about tourism business gaining momentum at the important tourist destination.
My friend, a former Banking professional, and his wife, had their second Covid vaccination on the 7th April and both had downloaded their Final certificate through Co Win App. The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, however, kept telling them over phone to have the second dose. Both explaining that they had had their second dose apparently had no effect on BMC. Finally, they received SMS yesterday saying that they have been successfully vaccinated on the 9th August, 2021. I too received a call asking me if my wife had had her second vaccination and I replied with a yes. The next day, the call was for me, asking if I had had the second dose, I replied saying I had. Apparently, BMC is updating their records; but one wonders if this is the right way to do it.
The alacrity shown in making a bold announcement that the city was the first in India to have 100% vaccination against Covid-19 has created a great deal of confusion. Many have a different view on vaccine coverage.
Till August 10, 2021, the state had administered the second dose to 41,94,247 persons. This worked out to 30.13% of people who had had the first dose. Out of about 27.61 million eligible people of the state (18 years and above), the state had covered 50.42% with at least one dose. Coverage of people with second dose varies widely from district to district. While it is as high as 67.61% for Khordha, it is 19.60% for Sambalpur.
The number of eligible population for Khordha District is around 13.12 lakhs whereas, the first dose has been administered to more than 14.38 lakhs people and 9,72,557 people have received their second jab. BMC sources subsequently indicated that by July 31, 10.59 lakh people had had their first dose and 7.7 lakh, the second. BMC estimates the number of eligible persons to be 9 lakhs. But this number of people do not seem to have had the second dose. The announcement of 100% vaccination, therefore, looks to be a case of acting in hurry and repenting at leisure.
It is, however, worth noting that Bhubaneswar city had had a much faster pace of vaccination and the coverage of people with the second dose is much higher than it has been elsewhere in the state. Notwithstanding the higher vaccination coverage, the TPR (Test Positivity Rate) for Khordha District continues to be high. As on August 10, as many as 383 positive cases were reported with TPR at 6.16, while districts of Sonepur and Jharsuguda reported zero TPR and Boudh, Bolangir registered TPR of one. The percentage of people with second dose was only 22.33% in Sonepur; 22.13% in Jharsuguda; 22.3% in Boudh and 18.7% in Bolangir. Many districts with lesser coverage with second dose seemed better off with low TPR.
It would look paradoxical indeed if, with very high coverage of people with both doses of vaccine, the TPR continues to be high. The government would do well to go for large number of tests in Khordha district for some time till the TPR comes down to an acceptable level. In the meantime, a special drive seems necessary to locate people who have not yet been vaccinated. Floating population needs to be monitored more vigorously.
Health of the people is too important a subject to be trivialised by temptation to catch newspaper headlines. Odisha reported low figure of deaths due to Covid-19 while the pandemic was raging with great virulence and till now the state is releasing audited figures of deaths. Ultimately people suffer and there is a loss of credibility when there is eagerness to catch newspaper headlines.
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