List of Contents
Synopsis: India needs to urgently adopt a targeted vaccination strategy, prioritizing high risk groups and potential super spreaders.
Targeted vaccination strategy is critical to avoid a possible third wave of Covid-19 infections. Due to limited resources, optimal utilisation of the scarce resource must be a key strategy.
What are the policy gaps in the current vaccination strategy?
The current policy of vaccination benefits digitally aware citizens and creates inequality in the administration of vaccine. Drive-through vaccination centers in some cities increase the inequality. This is not a desirable policy objective.
- Currently, the focus of vaccination is on the number and percentage of people vaccinated. However, the major focus should be on who is vaccinated. At present, 45-plus age group has been the main target group as there is higher mortality in this group. But a major policy gap is observed in vaccinating the 18-45 age group. certain high-risk groups under 18-45 age group should be targetted.
- The Government has advised that infected persons should avoid being vaccinated for three months after recovery. Implementation of this policy on the ground may not be happening.
- There is the issue of a large number of people who have been infected by the virus, but are not aware about it. Thus, a large percentage of jabs may be going to people who already have antibodies.
How do we need to devise targeted groups? How will this help?
The Union Health Ministry has authorised state governments to plan state-level prioritisation policies within the 18-45 age group. It is vital for state governments to use this option. A policy that targets certain high-risk groups within the 18-45 age group is required.
- Firstly, the population in the 18-45 age group can be divided into three categories.
- Category A comprises people who have already caught Covid-19 and have developed antibodies.
- Category B includes those who have not yet been infected.
- Category C includes a small subset of high-risk groups and potential super-spreaders. For example, street vendors, auto-rickshaw drivers, milk and vegetable vendors, newspaper vendors, journalists etc. They should be given priority.
- Secondly, this method will help in reducing the number of deaths. It would be appropriate that the central government issues a detailed advisory on this.
- Thirdly, it makes sense to target high-risk groups and potential super-spreaders for vaccination. This should not be delayed. Targeted vaccinations will also enable a faster continuation of economic activities and will reduce the stress on economically vulnerable groups.
- To tackle 3rd wave, Targeted vaccination with limited supply is important. The central government has already permitted on-the-spot registrations.
- Further, State governments need to take the initiative and plan for targeted and prioritised vaccinations.
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